By Sean Longley
Special Olympics has served a very special role in the lives of Sarah Noonan and Coach Jill Wall. The organization has provided a way for them to meet new people and to get connected with their community. Coach Jill and daughter Sarah have been involved with Special Olympics for decades, with Sarah first beginning as an athlete in 1996. Coach Jill was looking for an activity to get Sarah involved, as traditional sports came with limitations. Coach Jill got in contact with a coach and it was all up from there. From the beginning, the difference for Sarah was amazing. She finally found an inclusive environment where she was accepted. Special Olympics provided Sarah with an outlet to grow personally and to make friends. The experience has been life changing for both her and her family.
Sarah is a multi-sport athlete who has participated in athletics, bocce, bowling, and golf. Coach Jill has been by her side the whole way, and officially moved from long-time volunteer to coach with the establishment of Team Whittier in 2014. Both Sarah and Coach Jill are Whittier born and raised, and within a couple years of establishing their hometown team, Team Whittier had grown to over 30 athletes participating in athletics, basketball, baseball, bowling, softball, and swimming. Coach Jill has since moved on to coaching athletes, including Sarah, in bocce and golf.
This will be the 6th time Coach Jill and Sarah have participated in the Plane Pull, and both are looking forward to it being in person again this year. They were initially drawn to the event because they always look for different ways to support Special Olympics, and they enjoy supporting the Law Enforcement Torch Run, who is partnering with SOSC for the event. Sarah got to see her gloves and the rope that will be used and is very excited about pulling a plane!