By Melanie Barrios
Dawn Albritton is no stranger to USA Games. The 25-year-old is heading to the Games for the third time since joining Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC). Though this is familiar territory for her, it is still nerve-wracking, especially since she will be competing in a new sport this time around.
Dawn has previously attended two USA Games competitions, traveling to New Jersey and Seattle to compete in swimming. This year, she finds herself traveling to Florida to compete in golf. “It means the world to me because I’ve been to USA games before doing a different sport,” said Dawn. “But going as a golfer for USA games this time… I’m just happy I get to experience new places.”
In preparation for the Games, she has increased the number of days a week she practices gaining muscle and flexibility. In 2020, Dawn fractured two bones in her left elbow and had to recover quickly. She is hoping to do her best and is looking forward to the competition.
Like the previous Games, Dawn is taking in the experience with her family. In fact, some of her favorite memories from the last two games have to do with her family coming out to cheer her on as she competed. She is looking forward to making new memories this year. “I like making new friends and getting to travel to new places and, of course, the activities outside of the competition and the food,” she shared excitedly.
SOSC has given Dawn the space to make new friends and has contributed to her personal growth. Special Olympics has taught her what it is like to be competitive, and in her own words, “I learned that I can just be myself and be able to make friends because I didn’t have friends before I began and it just improved my self-esteem overall.” She shared her sentiments about Special Olympics and wants others to know that it is a place of acceptance and inclusion for everyone. Win or lose, Dawn is ready to have fun with her friends.