Jessica Simon: Inspiring Inclusion and Defying Labels in Special Olympics

by Melanie Barrios

For the past 38 years, Jessica Simon has been an active and dedicated participant in a variety of Special Olympics sports. She is more than an athlete; she symbolizes strength, determination, and inclusion. 

Jessica’s Special Olympics journey began at four years old. Since then, she has passionately participated in a variety of sports, including swimming, golf, softball, bocce, and athletics (track and field). Of all the sports she plays, she mentions swimming and bocce, followed closely by basketball, are her favorite sports to participate in because she gets to hang out with her friends.  

To maintain an active and healthy lifestyle, Jessica is grateful for her family’s membership at the Santa Barbara County Club. She consistently incorporates activities such as swimming laps and treadmill cardio workouts, dedicating 45 minutes to an hour to her fitness regimen. 

Outside of sports, Jessica enjoys singing karaoke and cherishes the moments spent with her family and friends. In addition to her love for music, Jessica is an active leader in her community. She is a Global Messenger and serves on Special Olympics Southern California’s Athlete Input Council. Her advocacy granted her the opportunity to travel to China alongside fellow athlete leaders.

Jessica reflects on how her life has significantly improved since joining Special Olympics. Not only has it positively impacted her health and fitness, but it also provided her with a close-knit circle of friends who support and uplift each other. When asked what she loves most about Special Olympics, Jessica responds, “The support Special Olympics gives and all of their hard work and dedication for all the athletes.” 

Jessica emphasizes the importance of early intervention and the accessibility of information about Down syndrome. Drawing from her own experiences, she encourages others to see her as an individual with hopes and dreams, rather than just a label. Her mission is to educate and enlighten families about Down syndrome, promoting acceptance and understanding. 

“I have Down syndrome, but I don’t define myself as a disabled person. I am an empowered individual. I have the ability to be independent,” Jessica affirms. 

Jessica Simon is an extraordinary individual who embodies the values of inclusion, determination, and the boundless potential that exists within each of us. Her journey as a Special Olympics athlete serves as an inspiration to break down barriers, challenge stereotypes, and celebrate the abilities that define us. With her family’s unwavering support and her unwavering spirit, Jessica demonstrates that one’s disability does not define them; it’s their ability to inspire and uplift others that truly matters. 

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