Before heading on stage to emcee the Closing Ceremony of the 2017 Summer Games, Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) athlete Rachel Osterbach was nervous.
The Global Messenger often gets nervous before speaking in front of big crowds. It is a fear she has battled for a long time.
But just as she has done her entire life, she conquered her fears. She has taken baby steps with each one, eventually overcoming them. Because of it, she has thrived.
For speeches, she “takes baby steps. I take a drink of water, take a breath and then give the speech.”
And boy, does she love to speak.
“In the beginning, I had trouble making friends. I used to stay home a lot and didn’t do much,” said Rachel. “Thanks to Special Olympics, I now have confidence in myself to meet friends. I love to give speeches. And it is keeping me busy.”
That might be an understatement.
Rachel has participated in track and field, basketball, floor hockey, bocce, softball and gymnastics; is an actress on the A&E series Born This Way; works for an insurance company; and is very active as a Global Messenger.
Interviewed Rachel Osterbach stars n Emmy winnin A&E reality show ‘Born This Way” bout 7 families dealin w/a Down Syndrome family member… pic.twitter.com/kwzZu5xTuJ
— Eunice Moseley (@EuniceMoseley) August 16, 2017
How does she juggle everything in her life? “I just am myself. It was hard to go into acting with my job and Special Olympics. I do a lot of extra stuff on the weekend, I have filming and I get tired.”
Her passion keeps her moving. It shows in her speeches and in her presence on camera, which have a simple mission. “I like to inspire people,” she says.
“I love acting. All of my fans come up to me. I inspire them and their family. It means a lot. It makes me feel good. Lots of them have young children who have Down Syndrome.”
Her father, Gary, says there isn’t a weekend any more where Rachel goes unnoticed. And often those interactions are moving. “The inspiration these children and families gain from her, they are quite emotional.”
It is her involvement in competing in Special Olympics and meeting new friends as an athlete that has her confident in being on camera and in front of people.
“The best part of Special Olympics for me was meeting new friends. I made a lot of friends. It provided me a real opportunity to be social. It meant a lot to me, all of those friends,” said Rachel.
As she continues to gain confidence, she continues to thrive in battling her fears. She was able to meet her favorite singer, Adam Lambert. She was invited to his concert, was reluctant to go because she has a deep fear of loud noises.
“I took baby steps, wore headphones and that helped me. But I love Adam so much, that helped me get over it.”
According to Gary, by the end of concert, she was sitting in the front row right in the center of the stage.
“She has been such an inspiration to her mom and myself. Often I find myself thinking if Rachel can do, I can do it,” he said.
Rachel will get to inspire others again this weekend at the 2017 Plane Pull© on Saturday, Aug. 19, when she serves as honorary captain for Team Katten, a first-time sponsor of this year’s event.
“I have never pulled (a plane) before. I am very honored to be an honorary captain. I am so excited. I am ready,” said Rachel.
Team Katten, a group of 25 sponsored by Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, will have their chance to pull a 124,000-pound FedEx cargo plane at Long Beach Airport with Rachel as their lead.
“We only recently found out Rachel is our official honorary captain, and we are just thrilled,” said David Halberstadter, partner and deputy general counsel for Katten. “I was aware of her fame through the A&E series, but I had no idea she had been a Special Olympics athlete for 25 years! It is just extraordinary at what she has accomplished. I think it is just terrific. We are going to have fun having her as a part of our team.”
Katten has been involved with SOSC in previous years and made the decision this year to become involved as a Bronze Sponsor.
“Katten has a long history of giving back to the communities where we work and live. Earlier this year, we made the decision to put more energy towards a smaller group of organizations. When Special Olympics was suggested, everyone sparked to it,” said David. “The idea that through our financial contribution we can help enrich the lives of 30,000 athletes in Southern California is fantastic! We are proud to be a part of this movement.”
As for the Plane Pull?
“It is such an unusual and cool event. Everyone in the office has been asking, ‘Is the distance we need to pull the plane in inches or feet?’ or ‘How far do we have to pull?’ I’m sure some of these law enforcement groups or fire departments will have no problem with this. We are a bunch of law firm attorneys and staff with strong enthusiasm, but we sure are going to give it a try!”
If they follow Rachel’s lead and take baby steps, Team Katten will be just fine.
2017 Plane Pull
The ultimate man-versus-machine Plane Pull© fundraiser for SOSC is back for its 12th annual run at the Long Beach Airport on Saturday, Aug. 19. This unique competition puts a team of 25 against a 124,000-pound 757 FedEx airplane to benefit SOSC athletes. Each team must raise a minimum of $1,250 ($50 for each team member) to compete in the Plane Pull. Teams will also have honorary team captains, SOSC Athletes. Among the athletes will be A&E Born This Way actor and SOSC Global Messenger Rachel Osterbach. The Plane Pull is a fundraising event that is part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics Southern California. Many local officers and law enforcement agencies throughout southern California will have teams competing. For more information visit SOSC.org.