Cindy was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, cerebral palsy and intellectual disability. She was abandoned as a baby and shuffled through institutions and foster care. Cindy began participating in Special Olympics while at the institution and credits the staff there with encouraging her to work hard to set, reach, and exceed her goals. Determination through sports has helped her earn medals in basketball, athletics, speedskating, volleyball, soccer, softball and tennis.
Now fully independent, Cindy has worked consistently, whether at childcare facilities or department stores or restaurants. She’s also an advocate for people with ID and a former Special Olympics Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger. She credits Special Olympics with helping her achieve her goals both on and off the playing field. She wants to inspire others to do the same: “I’m a fighter. I am a determined person. If I can’t do something right the first time, I try until I get it. I never quit and I never say I can’t."
After her experience with difficult dental issues, Cindy came to the attention of the Special Olympics Wisconsin Healthy Athletes program and partner Wisconsin Dental Association. They put her in touch with dental clinicians trained in working with people with ID.
Now, Cindy is smiling again—after years of holding back due to that missing front tooth. Thanks to the Healthy Athletes Special Smiles program, Cindy was able to receive partial dentures and the confidence to flash her signature smile again.
“Thank you for caring about me and all of the athletes in Special Olympics. You cared so much that you noticed I wasn’t smiling. But because of you, your dental partners and my coach (who I consider as family)—I have my smile back.”