Proving His Olympic Spirit
by Andrea Longbottom
“You’re going to state, buddy!” cheered a tearful Donna Glick as her 10-year-old son, Daniel, was awarded a silver medal for placing second in the Special Olympics Regional Bowling Tournament in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.
Born with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (mild autism), Daniel Glick wasn’t talking or even throwing a ball four years ago. “I wanted him to get involved in something, to go out there and participate like other children would do,” says Donna. An internet search led her to Special Olympics, an international nonprofit “dedicated to empowering individuals with intellectual disabilities to become physically fit, productive and respected members of society through sports training and competition.”
After calling Special Olympics headquarters, Donna registered Daniel for his first year of bowling in mid-2007.
Daniel began attending a weekly two-hour practice session at a local bowling alley, where a Special Olympics coach worked with him and several other disabled children. Donna also incorporated bowling practice into Daniel’s daily homeschool schedule. “We have gym class,” she says, adding that they work on jumping and throwing in addition to bowling. When asked if he enjoys bowling, Daniel replies with an enthusiastic “yes!”
At the district tournament, Daniel’s first competition ever, he competed against approximately eight other children his age and placed third, earning a ribbon. “He had a big old smile on his face, like ‘I did it, Mom,’” says Donna, adding that she couldn’t keep back the tears.
Daniel then advanced to the more competitive regional tournament, where he played against 10 other children and earned his silver medal. Although his second-place win qualified him to advance to the state tournament in Milwaukee on December 1, 2007, snow, sleet, and ice kept the Glicks at home. “Daniel understood,” says Donna. “He’s pretty laid-back.”
Although bowling is over for now, the Glicks plan to keep Daniel in Special Olympics sports—next summer he’ll start track. “I like to run,” says Daniel.
“Special Olympics has really done a wonderful thing for Daniel,” says Donna. “It’s a challenge for him, but he has done more than I thought he could do.” She explains that not only has Daniel improved in eye-hand coordination, but he has become more sociable and confident and has made good friends.
“If you’re homeschooling a child with special needs, Special Olympics is one of the programs I think you should get involved in,” advises Donna. “It helps kids with physical and social development. The coaches are very dedicated to these kids, and Special Olympics is rewarding for everyone: the family, the coaches, the kids.”
Donna has been homeschooling Daniel since kindergarten, primarily so he can have a Bible- and values-based education with strong academics. “Through homeschooling, my son has learned how to write, read, and he’s doing a really good job,” she says.
“I want to tell parents, ‘Don’t give up,’” says Donna. “Don’t let people tell you your child can’t do something, because they can.”
| Other Resources|
For more information, vist the Special Olympics website.