Sisters hoping to strike gold at Games
If Special Olympics presented medals for talking, then twin sisters Jennifer and Ashleigh King would have to be considered the favourites for the gold medal in that event.
No doubt about it, the twin sisters love to talk, with Jennifer the elder and louder of the two.
And Special Olympics provides them a great avenue to do just that.
“For them, it is social,” said Lesley Claxton, who works at Pacific Development Pathways, a local program they attend in Langley.
Pathways is designed for people with developmental disabilities and is funded by Community Living BC.
The sisters have also lived with Claxton for the past six years.
“The more they can socialize, the happier they are,” Claxton added.
“And it also gets them away from the computer and the TV.
“The bonus is that they get to be so social when they are out there.”
The King sisters — who are 26 — have been a part of Special Olympics since they were nine or 10 years old.
“Special Olympics has made such a monumental change to their lives for the better,” said Christine Kobler, who adopted the girls as newborns.
“I can’t even really explain it. It has given them a sense of purpose, a life.
“Without Special Olympics, I don’t even know what they would be doing.”
The girls were born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder as well as obsessive compulsive disorder.
Their adoptive parents put them into Special Olympics mainly for the social aspect of the program.
“So they would have the opportunity to mix with other like-minded special needs kids,” Kobler explained.
“I am extremely grateful for the program; I think it is one of the most worthy causes out there.
“And without the volunteers that run it — to give these kids the opportunities — they deserve the praise.”
The sisters, who grew up in Surrey, play a variety of sports, including swimming, floor hockey, soccer, baseball, golf, and bowling.
And next month (July 11 to July 14), both sisters will be going for gold as the Special Olympics BC Summer Games will be held in Langley.
They are competing in the five-pin bowling competition.
“I love bowling and hanging out with our friends at the bowling alley,” said Jennifer, who tends to dominate the conversation over her sister.
“And getting snacks.”
They bowl out of a league at Alder Alley in Aldergrove.
This won’t be their first time competing at a provincial Games competition.
Both sisters have silver medals from soccer while Ashleigh — the younger one — also has a bronze medal from baseball.
They are thrilled to get the chance to compete at home in Langley, in front of their friends and family. But make no mistake, they may love each other dearly and be best friends, but there is also a fierce competitiveness between the pair, whether it be about what to watch on TV, who gets the remote, or who answers a question first.
They are also sad when separated, as Claxton found out when Jennifer was gone for a month following surgery.
“Ashleigh was a mess,” she said.
“I missed when she is not around the house,” Ashleigh said.
“It was quiet.
“But I did get the TV,” she added.
Claxton notices a change in the two when Special Olympics is on a break during the summer.
The sisters — who graduated from Aldergrove Community Secondary School in 2005 — started living with Claxton when their mom was moving to Chilliwack.
“It just came the time,” Kobler said. “They wanted a little more independence, but were not able to live on their own.”
The sisters still see both their parents — who are separated — on weekends and summer camping trips.
And living with Claxton, her husband and three sons, the sisters are just part of the family, complete with chores.
“We have our fights, every family does,” Claxton said.
“But we love having them around.”
They both also hold part-time jobs in Langley.