Special Olympics is a blessing not only for the athletes, but for their families as well.
“It is a place she can be totally accepted and I don’t have to watch every minute,” explained Brenda Anderson, whose 36-year-old daughter Nikki is involved in the organization.
“I know she is in great, loving hands.”
“One of the things I always think about is it takes a village and (Special Olympics) is our village.”
While there is no official diagnosis for what Nikki has, Anderson said it is referred to as organic brain disease.
“Which means she is intellectually challenged,” she explained.
It was first discovered when Nikki was three years old.
Nikki is very high functioning.
Nikki lives in her mother’s basement and is semi-independent. She also pulls her own weight around the house when it comes to chores.
“She does her own laundry, and does mine too and has so forever and forever,” Anderson said.
“And does her brother’s laundry too.”
Nikki also cooks her own meals and holds down a part-time job, working one day a week at Sirens, a clothing store at Willowbrook Shopping Centre.
“She loves it there and the people treat her so well,” Anderson said.
What Nikki needs help with is getting to and from doctors’ appointments and for transportation.
Nikki is also both an active volunteer and participant with Special Olympics.
She will be going for gold next week when the Special Olympics BC Summer Games get underway in Langley. The Games run July 11 to 13.
Nikki, whose sports include bowling, soccer, basketball, softball and curling, is competing in track and field at the Langley Games.
“It is fun and I get to run around a lot,” she said, adding that her best event is the 400m.
“I am pretty fast.”
Anderson said Special Olympics is a perfect fit for her daughter, who is very active and loves to socialize. She holds a yearly Christmas party, as well as routinely hosting backyard campouts.
“It has absolutely made a big difference in her life,” Anderson said.
“We were so lucky to have found it at the age of 12.”
Special Olympics has also been beneficial for Anderson.
She used to coach in the organization, but has since stepped aside. She still volunteers, however.
“I have been lucky enough to be around all of these guys,” she said.
“I have gotten to know a whole different community that most people aren’t privileged to know.”