Our first young woman featured in Differently Abled is Ms. Catherine Young
Catherine Young is a lovely young woman and friend whom we met when my daughter began Special Olympics. She and the other teammates and parents on The Mabank Special Panthers made my girl feel right at home. Catherine has been on the Mabank team for 13 years and on other teams before that when she lived elsewhere. She is a fun-loving young woman who enjoys making people laugh, she likes to swim, write, and interact on Facebook.
I interviewed Catherine and asked her if she knew what her “special need” was and she explained that she has IDD and has since birth. She has adapted well to her life, graduating from high school in ’03, learning to drive and obtaining a driver’s license, and competing in Special Olympics in Bocce, Bowling, Basketball, and Track and Field
“The hardest thing about being different is being bullied. It mostly happened in school. The kids would say mean things to me. Even though I graduated in ’03, it still hurts sometimes.” She relays that she was rarely physically injured but was taken advantage of by someone she trusted and cared for and that still makes her sad sometimes. A more recent event that she feels was bullying related to her differences was in a church she attended. She believes that the pastor just “didn’t like kids with special needs”. She walked away from her faith for a while but knew something important was missing. Catherine says,
“I go to a great church now; Liberty Baptist, for two years. I feel accepted just the way I am and part of the reason is that I get the opportunity to help out; like I’m on the puppet team and I really like performing for the little kids.” Catherine was baptized at Liberty Baptist in October of 2016 and attends faithfully. When I asked her about her faith she told me “Jesus is happy with us. We are all different.” Personally, I couldn’t agree more.
I asked Catherine what she enjoys most; she relates that she loves the Descendant and Twilight movies and that her favorite thing about herself is that she is really loving and helpful towards others. She says that she really doesn’t like the way she looks, even though her friends think she is very pretty. Her favorite subjects in school were English and Spelling. After having received many cards, letters, and poems from Catherine I can see why; she is very good at writing.
Catherine told me, with misty eyes, that “My mom, Sharon is the person who has been and is always the most supportive person to me.”
Recently Catherine was asked to represent her team and region in a ceremony for Special Olympics. While the event was canceled due to funding issues, Catherine allowed me to share the speech she wrote for the occasion:
What Special Olympics means to me
My name is Catherine. Thanks for letting me speak with you about Special Olympics. I have participating in Special Olympics for 13 years with the team of Mabank Panthers. I compete in bocce, bowling, basketball and track. My basketball team name is Special Panthers; we won gold medal. For bowling I won a silver medal at Austin state competition. I have learned that I could do anything. I am proud to be such a part of something big which is becoming an inspiration to those around me; however what really makes my time so well is truly getting to know such great athletes and the coaches. My hope for the future is to change the world for the better good. I always loved to help out my teammates whether they do good or bad. This is how Special Olympics impact my life.
Special Olympics mean that I can show off my achievements and to share with others. I want to show the world what people with disability can do. All I want is to be treated like anyone else who doesn’t have a disability. Special Olympics have helped me in so many ways and gave me confidence.
Special Olympics means love one another, believe in yourself, respect, sportsmanship, caring for others, team work, have patience and why it’s a part of me because it makes me happy, have friends, do my best, never quits and always have fun no matter what place you get. Never give up and always achieve your dreams. Thanks to my mom for encouraging me since the beginning. I would not be where I am today if it hadn’t been for Special Olympics. Let me win but if I cannot win let me be brave and attempt.
I hope you will join me in celebrating this wonderful young woman for her courage and tenacity.
She keeps going in a world that she sometimes feels she doesn’t belong in and she keeps a pretty good attitude about it all most of the time. I asked her if she had any advice for other people with special needs and she suggested:
“Walk away. Just ignore it when people are mean. And love anyway.”
One of the first questions I asked Catherine was what she hoped this article might accomplish.
“I would just want to let them know that we’re all the same and we’re all different. We’re all equal.”
Wise words indeed.
If you have any questions about the Special Olympics organization please check out this link.
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