Special Olympics Pennsylvania #50for50: Hillary McFadden

#50for50: Volume 40
▪️ Hillary McFadden
▪️ 36 years old
▪️ Area M

“One year I wanted to do speed skating and I was at school. I was 16 at the time. But then they said, ‘Well no, you can’t do that. You’re blind.’ And I said, ‘Alright, that’s it. I’m not doing it.’ But then I went to this program where I learned how to deal with blindness and they said I could do anything I want to do, the sky’s the limit. So when I was 17, I asked again if I could do speed skating. And they said, ‘No, you can’t do that.’ And I said, ‘Well sure I can!’ So we fought for it. Me and my mom, we fought for it. And I signed up and suddenly I was part of the team. It was exciting. It was really exciting, uplifting. It’s great. I feel free on the ice. It’s like I’m zooooom, really fast. ‘That is amazing, I can’t even do that,’ they say. That makes me feel really good. When I skate, someone skates backwards in front of me and tells me where to go. … I was blind ever since an infant. I was born premature. I weighed only one pound, a little over a pound and seven or eight ounces. By the time I was five, I had my eyes removed because of complications from surgery, and so they removed them and now I have these. It’s good. If it weren’t for the surgery, I wouldn’t have been skating today. I also have high-functioning ASD, which they used to call Asperger syndrome. … When I was 20 or 21, I started winning gold medals. My favorite memory is when I first learned to read braille and I started picking it up. Now I have a business where I make braille menus for restaurants that need them. And another favorite memory is when I first learned Spanish. I speak Spanish. Hablo Español. … We have a rule on our team that is ‘SEA.’ It stands for Sportsmanship, Effort, Attitude. That’s the acronym. And I think it’s neat. I don’t know what I want to do eventually, but hopefully I’ll still be in Special Olympics.”

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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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