By Marvin Poquiz
Jered Naccarato remembers making nightly visits to the casino as a way to pass the time when we wasn’t sitting at home and watching TV. He knew he needed a change.
After a move to live with his brother, Jered was ready for a more active, healthy lifestyle.
“So, I got involved in Special Olympics and it has helped me out a lot,” he said.
Through SOSC, the 48-year-old has replaced those hours spent at home or in the casino with time on the basketball court, bocce and softball fields, and bowling lanes.
Jered started as a Special Olympics athlete in the Mesquite area before relocating to Carlsbad. After about a decade of participation altogether, he is still going strong.
“I like the hustle and aggressiveness (of basketball),” Jered said. He also values the emotions and the skills required to play the sport. It unleashes his competitive drive to get better every time he plays.
Participation in sports provides athletes with the opportunity to build positive, healthy habits for the mind and body.
For Jered, the idea of even running up and down a basketball court is almost unfathomable considering how his life started. At just 18 months old, he was involved in a car accident and spent 3 months in a coma.
“They did not know if I was going to live but I survived. So here I am,” Jered said.
“Special Olympics has changed my life a lot. I have something to look forward to.”
The life-changing decision has improved his quality of life outside of sports, too. When he’s not competing, Jered enjoys spending time in the backyard entertaining his grandson.
Inside the SOSC is a blog managed by staff member Tracy McDannald. It is a more feature-style approach to looking inside what makes Special Olympics Southern California so unique, so special. It is meant to explore the people and their stories. One word at a time.