Special Olympics Pennsylvania #50for50: Haleigh Sommers

#50for50: Volume 39
▪️ Haleigh Sommers
▪️ 24 years old
▪️ Fayette County

“I was a part of a special needs baseball team called the Miracle League when one of my friends on the team told us about Special Olympics. At first, it was more for something to do on Sundays. My first sport was bowling. I liked the sport, but I didn’t like how crowded it was. It was a lot of waiting around. We would wait for an hour, so I wasn’t so sure how I would like it. But it ended up being a good season and I ended up enjoying it. Bowling is one of the sports I enjoy and that I can do with little amount of help. Most other sports I need a lot of help, but this gave me more independence. I have cerebral palsy and I’m in a wheelchair, so I use a ramp for bowling. It’s more of just hoping for the best and trying to line up your ball in the ramp in the middle of the lane. Sometimes that doesn’t work. It’s more however the ball ends up. I play bocce, too, and they made me a special bocce ramp to use for that. It looks kind of like a tube and I can aim it and play that way. … I’m a Global Messenger for Special Olympics. I’ve done athlete surveys and given speeches. It wasn’t really one of my top things, but I was looking into starting school and I thought it would teach me more public speaking. I’m not a very confident speaker. I was hoping it would help and it has, just to get me out in public more. It’s way easier to do the speeches now than it was. I hope I’m getting the message out and letting people know more about it. We did one speech at the Women’s Business Society and that was a really great one. It seemed like they were interested. I did one for my local Rotary Club. That was a really nice one to do. And we did one at the Sheetz in Brownsville on their opening day and that was really neat, too. I really enjoy it and I’m really glad that I get to represent Special Olympics in that way. … I’m in school now. I do online schooling through PTC [Pittsburgh Technical College]. It’s still my general education courses, but I’m hoping to work at this place called Transitional Paths to Independent Living (TRPIL). It helps people with disabilities get out in the community and get jobs and it helps them with learning how to advocate for themselves. It helps them get equipment and things they need for a job. They have meetings where they talk about things that could be better in the community and how you can make it better. … I haven’t done the training for this yet, but I’m also the Athlete Representative for my county. I’m hoping to start a communications class to teach the athletes in my county better communication skills and how to talk to people. I just thought it would be a good way for our county to get together and work together. I’m very passionate about people with disabilities getting out and advocating for themselves and being independent. That’s my goal and I would love to help other people with that as well. I’m always willing to do anything in my community if they need help.”

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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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