By Naomi Cahill
Longtime Special Olympics Southern California swimmer Jeffrey Morris understands the importance of inspiring others to try new things and do their best. He himself was inspired as a child to become a competitive swimmer by watching his brother compete.
“So the more I would watch him, the more I was interested,” said Jeffrey, 32, who competes for Bellflower. “I wanted to do that so much. I just wanted to swim, and I have not stopped ever since.”
Jeffrey has now been swimming and competing for Special Olympics for the last 24 years. The accomplished athlete won gold Mother’s Day weekend in the 400-meter freestyle, 100-meter individual medley, 4×50 freestyle and 50-meter butterfly at the Orange County Regional Spring Games at the William Woollett Aquatics facility in Irvine.
What Jeffrey loves about competing is that he and his competitors are able to inspire so many people. He also loves the exciting atmosphere and gets his energy from the cheering fans.
“It’s an uplifting spirit that you really wanna be a part of something special,” he said. “I just love the atmosphere and that we’re inspiring a lot of people, and it just feels really great, and to be honest, I don’t want the day to end at all. I just want it to last forever.”
The OC Spring Games, which was also held at Irvine High School and the Casta del Sol golf course, featured more than 900 athletes competing in basketball, bocce, golf, swimming, and track and field. Jeffrey’s advice for new athletes curious about Special Olympics is to just come and see for themselves.
“My best advice to them is you gotta try it out. You can do anything you set your mind to, and once you do that, you’re gonna be amazed by what you can do,” he said.
In addition, Jeffrey notes that while you are reaching your goals, it gives encouragement for others to do the same.
“You can also inspire a lot of other athletes and a lot of people to prove what you can do,” he said.
Come out and witness the passion of sports at Summer Games on June 10 and 11, as more than 1,100 athletes create their own inspirational moments in six sports – athletics, basketball, bocce, golf, gymnastics and swimming – at Cal State Long Beach. Visit sosc.org/summergames for more information.