Special Olympics Pennsylvania #50for50: Sue Ann Jacobs

#50for50: Volume 41
▪️ Sue Ann Jacobs
▪️ 63 years old
▪️ Area P

“I first started hearing about Special Olympics when [my son] Nathan was in middle school. We tried a variety of things. He was two years behind his grade level. He didn’t go to middle school until he was 13, but we insisted he be allowed to participate in the school’s ski program. We were all skiers and we figured that would help him and teach him to maybe ski differently than we could. It was pretty disastrous. They didn’t really teach the athletes how to ski. They just pushed them from one instructor to the other. So soon after, we signed Nathan up for a Special Olympics swimming program in our area. That first year I just was on the sidelines, helping where I could. I got in the pool and stuff but didn’t have the necessary certifications to be a volunteer. Then the next year, I got certified in swimming and I’ve been involved for 16 years. It’s really rewarding. When our athletes first came, we had one or two who could doggie paddle on their own and now we’ve got some really good distance swimmers. Whatever your kids are involved in, that’s what you’re involved in. And Nathan is still involved in Special Olympics at 31. … [My husband] Doug and I started to get involved with skiing as well. Then I signed on to coach bocce and Doug started with golf and bowling. It’s Nathan’s social life. It’s his fun, it’s his friends, it’s who he would be with anyway. To have him doing something productive is great. … Our son’s not really a competitive person. He’s thrilled, but he would never show it. When they got picked to go to Nationals I’ve never seen a reaction like I did out of Nathan. He burst into tears and almost didn’t understand what was happening. He knew he was being considered, but it just shows you how the thought processes and what people do is very different in how it comes out. … Being at the USA Games was fantastic. In Seattle, when they came in for the Opening Ceremonies, Nathan was waving to everybody so hard. It was just, the excitement he was feeling just warmed my heart. Seeing his excitement, that’s why I do it. … I’ve been doing the Sports & Competition Coordinator job for seven or eight years. There’s a demand on you, but we just keep doing it and supporting it because it’s so rewarding to see the excitement and fun and accomplishment. This COVID stuff has really, really hurt. Nathan’s life has been totally put on hold. When we weren’t allowed to even train within ourselves for being high risk, he took it really hard. But we’ve been doing the at-home training for bocce. We go to the park and it’s small and there’s not anybody there. If there’s not going to be winter sports, it’s gonna be pretty hard. Everything’s on hold right now and we’re really isolated. … We’ll do Special Olympics as long as we can. In our Pike County part of Area P, we all know each other pretty well. It’s a great thing to do for the whole year. Whatever season we’re in the athletes will always say that’s their favorite. We love it, I love it. There’s many times we’ve said Nathan is a blessing to us and there are many times he’s been a blessing to others. We can’t wait for it to come back in person.”

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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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