Special Olympics Southern California athletes, coaches, volunteer, supporters, and more, had plenty to say Saturday as the 2019 Fall Games got underway in Fountain Valley.
“I’m with my bestie and we do this together as a team.”
–Shelby Van Zant, 29, volleyball player for Inland Empire Mojave River Rogue
“We have been an eight-year national partner and sponsor of Special Olympics in the United States. We have turned our partnership into the mission of getting proper fitting sneakers on athletes’ feet.
“We noticed there was an issue in the Special Olympics (athlete) population of them coming in with the wrong size shoe, too big or too small. We know there’s various obstacles for that. … You need that 1-on-1 attention and that’s hard for athletes to get sometimes. So we saw this need and decided to capitalize on our employees’ expertise, as well as our premium product. So it’s bringing together both worlds.”
–Sara McInerney, manager of the Finish Line Youth Foundation
“[The athletes] are capable of everything, just like you and me. They need a little help here and there, but that’s it.
“[My daughter] loves it. She was real quiet before and now she’s more outspoken. She met her best friend here with Special Olympics.”
–Priscilla Zamora, Western San Bernardino soccer coach who has a daughter, Susie, who also competes as an athlete. Priscilla has been a certified coach in multiple sports for more than 25 years.
“When I went to my first tournament, it was really fun because I got to play with friends, make some points and get medals.”
–Kenneth Brito, 11 years old, South Bay Bump It Up volleyball player on an impactful memory that stands out competing for Special Olympics. He’s been an athlete for close to five years.
“We serve a purpose of identifying [potential issues] and get them connected to someone. So, it works two ways: They’re getting care and we get a big heart over the whole thing.
“And we bring our students here, so they learn and interact with patients and the athletes. So it’s really good.
–Dr. Richard Mungo, pediatric dentist assisting with Special Smiles in the Healthy Athletes tent
“What I like about Special Olympics is watching all these other friends of mine grow as people and athletes. They’re absolutely incredible. We’ve become so close with each other, we’re basically a family.”
–Max Grasso, softball player for the Laguna Hill Hawks
“We thought that featuring our freeze-dried fruits and veggies and the nutrition aspect would be good with Special Olympics today, especially with Healthy Athletes right next door.
“Having healthy bodies is going to help you participate in athletics, think more clearly, function more optimally.”
–Dr. Joy Bozzo, vendor with nutrition-based startup company Vejo