Special Olympics Pennsylvania #50for50: Aaron Younkin

#50for50: Volume 43
▪️ Aaron Younkin
▪️ 45 years old
▪️ Somerset County

“I got involved 35 years ago. I just wanted to get involved in Special Olympics and when I got my first-place medal, I was so proud. I do swimming, track, golf and bowling. Track & Field was the first sport I did. I did the running and the shot put, where you throw a ball and see how far you can throw the ball. And I got first place. That was at Somerset High School. Don’t be afraid and try to do your best. Don’t let anybody tell you can’t do anything, because you can do it if you try. … [In 1998], I was inducted into the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Hall of Fame. I was glad to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. It made me feel proud and made me feel amazing. I didn’t know if I was going to get in, but I was so glad to see Joe Paterno there when he gave me my medal and they had Hall of Fame music and stuff. It was an amazing evening and I’ll never forget it. I got a letter in the mail and my mom told me I was going to be inducted into the Special Olympics Hall of Fame and my heart dropped. I couldn’t have done it without my friends’ and family’s support. … One of my favorite memories is when me and my dad both golfed up at Penn State. I hit a tree and he had to re-hit the ball. I looked back at dad and we both laughed at it. And it wasn’t too bad of a shot, either. [That memory] is close to my heart every time I look back at it. We had a good father-and-son relationship. We never fought or anything. He was a good person and everyone around him loved him. My dad and mom, they’re good people. I love them just the same. … My favorite sport would be bowling. My best score is 145. It was our competition day and I got first place out of it. I like the strikes. There’s a saying in bowling, ‘You have your good days and bad days.’ There are days where I get a gutter ball and I just shake it off and say, ‘it’ll get better.’ And it does get better. … If you want to get involved, there’s people out there who can help you get involved in Special Olympics. Once you’re in Special Olympics, you can never get out of it. My mom’s been in Special Olympics for a long time, so she comes and supports whenever she can for me. Once you get to a Special Olympics event, the crowd just goes crazy. It’s very nice to hear the crowd cheering you on. That’s what Special Olympics is about. Every time we get a medal, we wave to the crowd. Volunteers, they give their time out to come to our events, and we as athletes, we understand what they do and they understand what we do. They’re very happy to see you. They’re caring. The volunteers are really important. Without volunteers, we wouldn’t have anything going on.”

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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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