Last Sunday, Paola Lozano took the court for Ventura at the Santa Barbara North Division basketball competition. It was her 75th event since joining Special Olympics Southern California, and the 21-year-old just can’t get enough of life.
Paolo said Special Olympics has made her stronger, and that’s not just limited to sports.
“I love Special Olympics. I love to shoot baskets and exercise,” said Paola.“It has helped me go to college. I hope to work after college. I want to work in a restaurant in Texas.”
Paola has family in California, Arizona and Texas. She hopes to visit them all.
“I love my family. I have a brother and a sister and a sister-in-law and nieces. They support me every day. I like them to meet my friends from Special Olympics. That is a favorite part,” said Paola.
With the support of her family as her foundation, Julia Lozano says her daughter’s wings grew thanks to programs like Special Olympics.
“Special Olympics has furthered her potential and showed her she can do anything. I am so proud of her,” Julia said through an interpreter, Ventura soccer coach Andres Mendrano.
In 2011, Paola started in soccer and she took off from there. In addition to basketball, she has run the 100- and 200-meter sprints while also participating in the softball throw and shotput during track and field season. She is also a swimmer and tried a season of bowling in 2016.
Today is World Down Syndrome Day and Paola, who has Down syndrome, embodies the spirt of the day. The goal of the global awareness day, which has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012, is to bring awareness of what Down syndrome is, what it means to have it, and how people with Down syndrome play a vital role in our lives and communities.
She has used her experience competing for SOSC in Ventura to propel her in the community. Paola
is fluent in two languages (Spanish and English), attends Ventura College and loves her classes in computers, art, math and physical education.
“She has brought so much joy to our lives. She is an angel sent from heaven,” Julia said. “She has been nothing but a blessing and there isn’t anything she can’t do.”
For more on World Down Syndrome Day, CLICK HERE.