USA snowboarder Daina Shilts is an athlete leader who’s as dynamic on the speaker’s podium as she is on the slopes. She says, “Special Olympics has taught me --and other people -- that it's okay to be different."
In fact, she says “it's awesome" to be different. As part of Special Olympics most of her life, Daina has seen up close how sports brings people together, especially through Unified Sports, which teams up people with and without intellectual disabilities.
Daina snowboarded to a bronze medal at her first World Winter Games in PyeongChang, Korea. She is also a veteran competitor at the X-Games in Aspen, Colo. There, she raced twice along with Olympic champion Hannah Teter for Unified Snowboarding in 2015 and 2016. They won silver and bronze in the dual slalom event. As Daina notes, they were the only females on the podium.
"Girl power!" she says. Daina also participates in athletics, bowling, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.