San Diego County coach Jacque Martin has seen what an on-site Healthy Athletes station can do for Special Olympics Southern California athletes.
Each year at both the Summer and Fall Games, clinical directors volunteer their services and offer free health exams to the athletes. At this year’s Fall Games on Nov. 11 and 12 in Fountain Valley, exams and information will be available for dental, hearing, physical therapy, podiatry and general health promotion.
Every now and then, a routine test by the clinicians will result in detection of an issue – and the timing can sometimes make all the difference.
“I’ve had athletes where things have been detected and they’ve been forwarded to another doctor,” said Jacque, a coach for 13 years. “So, I think it’s really important.
“As a coach, when I have my athletes on the court (in practice) for that hour, I look at it as the only hour a week that they’re moving. Granted, many of them are active in other sports, but just because of social issues a lot of them don’t move (and stay active).”
Jacque is also the mother to athlete and Global Messenger Heidi Sand, who has competed for 18 years.
As a 4-year-old, it was discovered that Heidi was missing a quarter of her 11th chromosome, but the condition wasn’t quite clear immediately. She’s been involved with sports nearly all her life, starting with tee-ball. But as Heidi started to develop, the gap in skill level between her and the rest of her peers was evident.
That’s when Special Olympics came into the picture and Heidi was able to play and enjoy the same sports as everybody else. These days, she enjoys tennis, bowling, softball and basketball.
Outside of sports, Heidi credits Special Olympics with helping her become more independent. For instance, it helped her figure out how to take public transportation and now she teaches her fellow athletes how to do the same.
“She really likes taking what she knows and passing it on,” Jacque said.
Most of all, Heidi said the active lifestyle Special Olympics has helped provide simply makes her “happy.”
To learn more about Healthy Athletes, visit our website at SOSC.org/healthyathletes.