It was a proud moment for Kayla Cornell as she walked across the stage at the Special Olympics Michigan Summer Games in front of 6,000 people to accept the Healthy Athlete of the Year Award, yet it also made her think about what more she could do to make a difference. A nine-sport athlete, Kayla uses her platform as a Health Messenger to educate those around her about the importance of inclusive health.
Kayla shares, “I love everything I do in Special Olympics. It’s my heart and soul. I became a health messenger because I saw the difference I was making in other athletes’ lives. I became a Health Messenger to help more athletes become health advocates.”
Since Kayla has been trained as a health messenger, her health journey remains a priority. In fact, she decided to enroll in college for nutrition so she can further help Special Olympics athletes. Additionally, Kayla started—and taught—Special Olympics Michigan’s first cooking class called “Let’s Get Healthy Together.” Additionally, Kayla produces videos that share health information and interviews people in the health field who share tips. She also started a Unified softball team where Unified partners and athletes work out together before practice. All teammates track in a journal their diet and discuss it during practice.
When Kayla is not in her Health Messenger, athlete or student roles, she works part-time at the local YMCA and as a ski instructor. In addition, Kayla is close to her family—including her three sisters—and they love to travel.
Raluca Ioana Avram
To Stephanie, the athlete oath isn't just a saying. It's a valuable tool for overcoming her greatest fears. Being involved in Special Olympics has given Stephanie the confidence she needs to celebrate her abilities and pursue her dreams. As a Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger and a Health Messenger, she wants to promote health and educate young athletes.
Lynna Marie Hodgson
Su Xing “Jack” Zheng