In honor of the Special Olympics 50th Anniversary, Mike, a well-rounded athlete, reflects on his accomplishments since joining Lambs Farm in 1984.
“My life has changed since I started competing,” Mike said. “I’ve been playing sports for as long as I’ve been at Lambs.”
When he first moved to Lambs Farm, the Recreation Manager introduced Mike to daily exercise and track. Ever since his first competition, he’s been interested in developing new skills in a variety of sports. He discovered a love for tennis, and in 1995 qualified for the Ninth Special Olympics World Games in New Haven, Connecticut. He competed with 7,000 athletes from 143 countries and left victorious. He was the first Lambs Farm athlete ever to bring home a shiny bronze medal from an international competition.
Mike and his dedication to Special Olympic sports continued to grow as the years went on. About ten years ago, he decided to join the golf team. It was much to his surprise that he would do something most golfers never achieve in their lifetime. On May 6, 2010, Mike shot a hole-in-one at the Vernon Hills Golf Course during Special Olympics practice. “I was ecstatic,” Mike said. “I was the first Participant to make a hole-in-one and everyone was happy for me.”
A year later, on May 5, 2011, Mike did it again. He shot a 199-yard hole-in-one at the same course. Those dates will always have a special place in his heart. He thinks about the exciting moments every time glances at his plaques and Biggest Achievement trophies he received for two consecutive hole-in-ones.
Today, Mike continues to pursue his Special Olympic dreams. He still participates in track and golf but added softball, floor hockey, snowshoeing, basketball, bocce and bowling to his list of activities. His involvement has earned him Athlete of the Year three times, and he proudly decorates his apartment with his giant medal collection.
Mike is happy to come back to Lambs Farm with new hardware after competitions, but he loves the opportunity to practice with his friends and create memories when traveling. “Life would sure be boring without Special Olympics,” Mike said. “I love the staff, volunteers and all the people I get to meet.”
Mike is one of many athletes at Lambs Farm who is proud to honor the Special Olympics 50th Anniversary. July 20 marks the official birthday, but our Participants celebrate the opportunity to explore their talents every time they grab a ball, high-five a teammate or step onto a field.