By Andrew Higa
The impact Special Olympics Southern California has had on Monti Peterson can be seen in many instances of his life. He’s had the opportunity to speak in front of the likes of Mattel and Toyota employees, as well as volunteer at a nearby VA hospital over the years.
It’s all thanks to the communication skills he’s improved upon with his teams.
“Special Olympics has changed my life by helping me to have more self-esteem and confidence to be more talkative to teammates, coaches, and volunteers,” he said.
A 48-year-old SOSC athlete from Inglewood, Monti attended the Switzer Learning Center in Torrance. His journey with the Special Olympics began in 1980 thanks to one of Monti’s best friends at Switzer, Alvin Brown, who got Monti to join his Torrance team.
Monti has participated in a number of sports including bocce, soccer, softball, and swimming. However, his favorite is bowling because it’s a fun sport and he likes how you can play alone or as a team.
On and off the field, you can see Monti’s confidence and skills on full display.
“Special Olympics has helped me develop skills needed to play organized sports,” he said. “My communication skills have improved with my teammates, coaches, and volunteers in a positive way.”
In 2014, Monti traveled to New Jersey to compete in the Special Olympics USA Games. He has competed in track and field, where he has won many gold and silver medals and ribbons. He even got to meet former Olympic track star and founder of Special Olympics Southern California, Rafer Johnson.
In addition to competitions, among Monti’s fondest memories was carrying the torch to open Summer Games at Cal State Long Beach. The Flame of Hope means so much, to so many people. There is no bigger honor than carrying the torch to signify the commencement of an event.
As for fundraisers, his favorite event is Pier Del Sol, which is a fun-filled yearly event on the Santa Monica Pier and Pacific Park. It’s because he enjoys the rides, game booths, and food from the restaurants that support SOSC.
Now, with the U.S. election approaching, Monti urges his fellow athletes to use their voice. “To all athletes that are registered to vote: Vote on Tuesday, Nov. 3 because everyone has a voice to make the world a better place.”