Go Make A Difference: “We are all Winners in the Heart” – A Participant’s Story from Annapolis

Alicia stretches at GiGi’s Playhouse Annapolis GiGiFIT pilot program.

Alicia G.’s Inspirational Story

Fitness for Success

Life is freedom. Freedom is life! Freedom is the road to success.  We express ourselves in many ways, whenever and wherever freedom exists. Maintaining a fit life is part of that freedom. Being fit gives me freedom to move about and to go make a difference!

How do I stay fit? On a weekly basis, I attend GiGiFIT fitness sessions hosted by GiGi’s Playhouse Annapolis. Commitment to staying fit is important to living a healthy life!

GiGiFIT is for everyone! The facilities and staff are admirable. The facilities are modern and appeal to everyone. The staff and volunteers are professionals in all that they do. Anyone who visits GiGiFIT automatically becomes attracted at first sight to the center. There is something special about GiGiFIT that makes me always want to come there.  There are no borders, no limits, no barriers and no stereo-typing at GiGiFIT!

“I love GiGiFIT, it’s so much fun. I love working out with friends because it’s more encouraging that way! I also really love the colorful gear, it makes me happy working out. I hope to continue in the program.”

Enthusiastic at GiGiFIT!

 

Growing Up

In March 1984, I was born with Down syndrome in Frankfurt, Germany where my parents were serving on active duty military. While growing up, I was involved in several sports and social functions. My participation helped me to develop and grow stronger each day. With the help of my parents, I set goals and aspirations on what I want to achieve in life. My grandmother constantly reminded me that “there is nothing hard and nothing easy…just do it”.  My dad said to me “No pain no gain”. As long as I stay positive and don’t give up, my dreams came true and are still coming true to this date.

Life Line of Dreams

Alicia’s smile shines as bright as her Special Olympic medals.

Like any parents, it was difficult for my mom and dad to have a child who is physically and mentally challenged.  With a lot of support and sharing of information, my parents became adjusted and at ease on having a child with Down syndrome.  My dad remembers the doctor telling him that a child with Down syndrome is incapable of living a good life. Gosh! That doctor was wrong—dead wrong! My parents never saw me with disabilities or treated me otherwise. Their thinking is always that I am a normal person just like everyone else regardless of physical and mental challenges. Having said that, they continue to involve me in anything I am capable of doing. This is part of our dreams—maximize my potential.

At the age of 6, I started learning to swim.  Because I love the water and swim in 13 feet deep of water, my parents signed me up in August 2003 to compete in the state Special Olympic Swim event.  Within five years of competing, I had earned gold, silver and bronze medals. My parents believed swimming was too easy after winning medals, so they decided that I should try Taekwondo.  After 7 years of sparring, kicking and chopping blocks, I earned a black belt. This sport helped me to strengthen my mind, body and soul!

I started learning to ride a bike when I was 8 years old. It was a struggle and often I was challenged.  With a lot of positive encouragement from both of my parents, a year later the day came when my dad let go of holding me and I was able to freely ride.  That brought tears in our eyes.  My dad knew then that I have the potential to do everything and that I can go make a difference!

I also earned several gold, silver and bronze medals as a Special Olympic athlete in various sports which include Cycling, Skiing, Bowling and Golfing. Today, I continue in several physical fitness activities. They include participating in GiGiFIT sessions, dance classes and Special Olympics Cheerleading.

Alicia in her Team USA jacket.

Show and Tell the World

In September 2014, I received an email indicating that I was the secondary nominee to represent Team USA in the Cycling Competition at the World Games Special Olympics held July 2015 in Los Angeles.  At first my parents and I thought it wasn’t true—we just didn’t believe it.  A week later, I received another email and this time I was notified that I was selected as the primary nominee. I nearly fell to my knees!

After training for almost a year with other Team USA cyclists, the day finally came to show the world that people who are intellectually challenged can make a difference in a special way.  We left Los Angeles with dreams that came true.

Dream…dream…dream…make the dream happen. I received two Silver medals in competing with Olympians from other countries. I was the only female in my ability group who won medals for Team USA Cycling.

Freedom is a win-win event.  Freedom to win. Freedom is a lose-lose situation. Freedom to lose. Freedom is a win-lose. Freedom of either. I always tell friends and others that even although some will win and some will lose, we all are winners!  We are all winners in heart! Being a winner in heart is where you find all the medals you want!

Role Model to Share

My goals and aspirations include reaching out to people at the highest plateau and helping them achieve success regardless of physical and mental challenges. Part of sharing my experience is to continue to serve as an ambassador and a Special Olympic Global Messenger. By doing so, I can make a difference and help make someone’s dream come true.

  

 

 

1 Comment

  1. Krystle Foy on June 6, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    What an incredible story! You are SUCH an inspiration! Can’t wait to see you speak at the Brave in the Attempt Resource Fair tonight!

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