Special Olympics Pennsylvania #50for50: John Paxton

#50for50: Volume 44
▪️ John Paxton
▪️ 28 years old
▪️ Lebanon County

“In 2015 I moved down here. I was originally born in Harrisburg. I lived over there for a majority of my life, but now I’m in Lebanon. I first got started with Special Olympics when I was in school. We did fun track activities and competitions at Messiah College. And used to do stuff at East Penn and Dickinson College. Then, after school, I got even more involved. I started with bowling and then did volleyball, floor hockey, basketball, track and softball. My first impressions were that it was really cool and I wouldn’t mind doing it again. That’s what started it all. I enjoyed being around friends and making new friends, seeing other schools and delegations and just doing different events. … I found myself becoming more athletic through this. Since I started, especially with volleyball, I kind of picked up and learned more of it. I had to work on my serving, setting and bumping on the ball and it was very interesting because it gives you an opportunity to learn new things. My first Fall Fest was for volleyball. Both Fall Fest and Summer Games were very awesome experiences. As an athlete, you’re always wondering what those events are like. It made me realize how much more excitement there was in each of those events. … One of my favorites is floor hockey. When I started playing floor hockey, I used different hockey sticks, but in Special Olympics we use straight sticks. It was kind of interesting to see those. I never played that way but it turned out pretty good. I’m pretty good at trying to keep defending the net so it doesn’t go into the goal. My goal is to one day be goalie for floor hockey. … After my dad passed away, I had a little bit of a rough moment there. But the whole team stuck together and that’s what got me more motivated to be together with the team. I was at competition in February, 2019 and my mom got a call that my dad wasn’t doing too good. They had to come to my competition and come and let me know. I wanted to play. I didn’t want to let my team down. But I went to go and see my dad. Later the team gave me an award for that — because I didn’t want to leave — I wanted to keep it together and be strong for my team. After that, it just compelled me to understand more about what it means to be a teammate. So through that experience, it got me more supportive of cheering the team on to do well. Being a good teammate just means sticking together and being one team and cheering each other on and supporting everyone if they have a bad day. Just keep them motivated and keep their spirits up. Even on their good days, just say ‘Hey, look, you did a good job today. I think you did awesome.’ By doing that, I feel like I’m supportive of everyone. We all try to help each other out when needed.”

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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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