What They’re Saying at 2018 Summer Games – Day 2

Athletes and attendees left the 2018 Special Olympics Southern California Summer Games with a lifetime of memories Sunday at Cal State Long Beach.

Here’s what some of them had to say:

Athletes

Kayla Aulis

Gary and Kayla Aulis

“It gives me the opportunity to play and not worry about skill level. … I was looking for a team to play on before I found out about Special Olympics.”

Andre Fogenay-Wilson, basketball player for Westside

“I feel so great, so powerful.

-Inland Empire swimmer Kayla Aulis on winning gold in the 100-meter freestyle and a pair of silvers in the 100 individual medley and 50 butterfly

“It makes me feel good, like I’m the top champion of a sport.”

Matthew Tierney, 22, swimmer from Atascadero (San Luis Obispo) who won four gold medals

“This is the first time I’ve ever [competed] outside of the county.”

Ventura County swimmer Sebastian Inosanto Gutierrez

“I heard about Special Olympics through one of my co-workers, he plays bocce.”

Michael Albert, Riverside Warriors basketball player on how he got involved

Families, Volunteers and Fans

“When they say Special Olympics, these are special people. There’s just love and joy and fun. They’re so non-judgmental and appreciative. It’s just a great experience and creates great memories for us.”

Armando Fonseca, member of four-man, acapella Doo-Wop group The Alley Cats and uncle to 19-year-old Special Olympics athlete Nate

“I just love the smiles on the [athlete’s] faces, the way they light up. They’re so appreciative of just us being here, supporting them. … They’ve taught me a lot here that I didn’t know before coming here. They are so determined and motivated beyond.”

Stephanie McGary, 32, United States Postal Inspection Service officer from Los Angeles

“I’ve loved it. I’ve always wanted to do something like this. I finally got the opportunity and I couldn’t jump on it quick enough.

“I see heart, dedication, determination (from the athletes). All the hard work is left on the floor.”

Tear’a Laudermill, first-time basketball venue volunteer

“We enjoy watching him do all the things that he likes. It gives us ideas of what (skills) we can work on.”

Mitch Dolberry, grandfather of 7-year-old Young Athletes participant

Laura Zarate

Disney volunteer Laura Zarate

“To watch Kayla — and all of these athletes — fight, claw and battle, it’s inspiring and really just makes us very proud.”

Gary Aulis, father of Inland Empire swimmer Kayla

“It’s been great getting to know them and help them make their Mickey ears. They are so happy to be here, so full of life.”

Laura Zarate, first-time volunteer with Disney

Coaches

“The most rewarding aspect is just the pure innocence of the athletes, how proud they are that they accomplished the event. … The athletes do teach you a lot about yourself. They teach you a lot about compassion.”

Second-year coach Grant Fontan, Surf City Swimmers of Huntington Beach

“We want to make sure our athletes get some kind of growth during the season. Our athletes are athletes — they’re not disabled athletes. They have very strong bodies. Once you teach them something, they’ve got it. … They’ve reinforced my love of sports.”

Deneese Thompson, Special Olympics Antelope Valley area director and Lady Lopes basketball coach

STORY SIZED Swimming Coach Stephanie Wise 29years old - San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo coach Stephanie Wise

“Helping them to reach their potential, to see the pleasure on their faces, it’s really good. They do their best.”

Carlos Ceron, who coaches son Luis in swimming, as well as soccer and bowling

“I can be a person who helps my friends be a little bit more inclusive. So, a lot of my friends have learned about Special Olympics through me and my husband, who is also a coach.”

Stephanie Wise, San Luis Obispo coach for 11 years, on the personal gain of being involved

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