Special Olympics Pennsylvania #50for50: Zachary Williams

#50for50: Volume 18
▪️ Zachary Williams
▪️ 33 years old
▪️ Fayette County

“I’ve been in Special Olympics for 25 years. I think my physical therapist at the time talked to my mom about it. The first sport I tried was basketball. I like competing at Summer Games. I’ve competed in 2013, 2015 and 2019. Twice in basketball and last year I did swimming. … I have hydrocephalus and I have epilepsy. I’ve had 23 different surgeries, mainly because my shunt wasn’t working properly. I’ve had 13 of those and between 1998 and 1999 I had six surgeries in three months. Eventually I’ll have to have a new vagal nerve stimulator put in place. Sometimes that’s helped me and sometimes I’ve had seizures that just don’t stop. Once, I was in the middle of a Regional Input Council call and I had a seizure and my mom was like ‘we gotta go, he’s having a seizure.’ Usually I kind of, like, shake a little bit. But sometimes I’ve gotten myself to the point where I’ve gotten a couple black eyes or a lacerated nose. … I was nervous joining Special Olympics at first, but I’m comfortable now with everything. I love to get people interested in Special Olympics and get them involved and tell them all about the different sports. I have three degrees from Athlete Leadership University: Athlete Representative, Global Messenger and Health & Fitness Coordinator. About two years ago, I gave a speech to the Knights of Columbus. Besides introducing myself, I told them all about Special Olympics and what goes on in my community. I told them about what goes on with me and all my events with all my friends. … I just stay as positive as I can be. I’ve made a lot of friends through Athlete Leadership. They say I’ve done a good job and I really have enjoyed making new friends and playing sports with my teammates.”

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Special Olympics Pennsylvania

The mission of Special Olympics Pennsylvania is to provide year-round sports training and competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community.

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