By Terrionna Brockman
East San Gabriel Valley track and field athlete, Karen Cruz is anticipating USA Games in Orlando, Florida. She has been training for over seven years with Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) for the chance to be recognized for such a monumental athletics competition and the time has finally come.
When Karen received news that she would be attending the Games she shed tears of joy and with a smile, she says, “I cried because it’s something that I’ve worked so hard for.” Throughout her journey, she was doubted by others, but she didn’t allow their negativity to dampen her mood. Those moments of being counted out served as motivation for her to keep going. “I was looked down on by a lot of people,” she says. “I’ve proven myself so much.”
One thing about Karen is the belief that she has in herself. There is a spark in her voice when she speaks of her passion for running track. Special Olympics has helped her to build the confidence that she proudly shows, but it wasn’t always this way. Prior to becoming a SOSC athlete she was “a very shy flower.” She goes on to say, “I basically bloomed into this amazing star!”
Having the opportunity to represent Southern California at the Games means the world to Karen, so much that she was at a loss for words detailing how honored and humbled she felt. She says with conviction, “I cannot express it with my words, but I’m good at showing it on the track!” To prepare for the games, Karen commits to working out and practicing every Saturday and even schedules time during the week to run at a local park.
As a first-time USA Games athlete, Karen is uncertain about what to expect, however, she is certain that the work she has invested in her athletic career over the years will set her up for success on the track.