Clownfish Swim Club: A team for kids with autism, Down syndrome and other disabilities

Nine-year-old Abby Bauleke found what she was looking for in a most improbable spot. She had tagged along, following her older brother and sister to their basketball, football and soccer games — waiting for her time to come. Then leukemia and a paralyzing infection threatened to put a damper on this bundle of energy and enthusiasm, who lives in Savage.

On a recent afternoon, Abby slipped effortlessly out of her wheelchair and into an indoor swimming pool tucked into a nondescript industrial maze of warehouses in Eden Prairie.

“I feel free when I’m swimming,” Abby said. “And my teammates are great.”

As she pulled herself through the water, lap after lap, Abby was surrounded by other children swimming, splashing, kickboarding and laughing. The Clownfish Swim Club was at it again, a unique team comprising more than two dozen kids with autism, Down syndrome and other disabilities that all melt away once they break the water’s surface.

via Pooling their resources |

Oliver Pratley is following in the steps of Rebecca Adlington and Michael Phelps

A Notts teenager with Down’s Syndrome has followed in the footsteps of Rebecca Adlington and Michael Phelps by being fitted with a Speedo Olympic swimming suit.

Oliver Pratley, 15, could not even swim three years ago but now he’s making waves in the swimming world, breaking several world records.The teenager has been given two pairs of £130 ($201) Speedo LZR racer jammer shorts which he will wear in the Down’s Syndrome Championships in Taiwan in September, where he will represent Britain.

Oliver was given a tour of Speedo in Ascot Road, Nottingham, and was shown around the Aqualab where the latest innovations in swimming attire are developed.

After squeezing into the tight shorts, the Blidworth teenager gave his verdict: “What can I say? They make me feel like a professional. Other people will think I’m the real deal in them.”

via Oliver Pratley is following in the steps of Rebecca Adlington and Michael Phelps.

Philadelphia: Drexel basketball visits The Timothy School

Drexel men’s and women’s basketball players took time from their summer schedules to pay a visit to in Berwyn, Pa. on Friday, July 30. The Timothy School is dedicated to educating children with Autism. For the third year in a row, students welcomed the Dragons to school as part of Sibling Day for a basketball clinic and played against the school’s team, “The Tornadoes.”

The Sibling Day event at Timothy School is a day on which all the students diagnosed autism spectrum disorders invited their siblings for a day of bonding and fun.

via Drexel University Athletics – Drexel Basketball Visits The Timothy School.

Elgin’s Winfred Cooper honored as inspiration to teens with autism

Winfred Cooper of Elgin, Ill., was honored over the weekend by the HollyRod Foundation at a Los Angeles red-carpet event where Holly Robinson Peete said he is an inspiration to teens with autism. You may be one of the thousands of people who saw Cooper’s amazing touchdown at a high school football game last fall. He’s now in college in Elgin.

Calling him an inspiration to teens with autism, the HollyRod4kids Foundation honored Elgin’s Winfred Cooper with its Champion Award this past weekend.

The awards were given out at a large, celebrity-filled fundraising gala called DesignCare, held at billionaire businessman Ron Burkle’s estate in Beverly Hills.

After walking the red carpet into the party, Cooper, 19, and his father, Winfried, met several celebrities, including Marcus Allen, Sugar Ray Leonard and Samuel L. Jackson. They also spent time with the foundation’s founders, actress Holly Robinson Peete and NFL star Rodney Peete.

via Daily Herald | Elgin’s Winfred Cooper honored as inspiration to teens with autism.

Florida teen swims his way to 2011 Special Olympics in Greece

The sky is spitting an afternoon shower as Michael Tuason arrives for practice at the New Port Richey Rec Center pool with his mom. The tall, lanky teenager greets his waiting dad with a brief “hi,” then quickly strips to his bathing suit and tucks his black, shoulder-length hair under his navy blue cap.

Before long, the star of the Pasco Piranhas Special Olympics swim team is in the water, ready to go.

“How many?” Michael, 18, asks his coach, Rita Miller.

She barely gets out, “Give me 20,” before he’s off, swimming the freestyle and easily lapping the two other swimmers sharing the lane.

“Just look at him go,” Miller says, “He won’t stop till he’s done all 20 laps and then he’ll ask me again, ‘How many?’

“Now you see why he’s going to the World Games.”

via Autistic Pasco County teen swims his way to 2011 Special Olympics in Greece – St. Petersburg Times.

Spanish soccer coach fulfills son with Down syndrome’s wish

The coach of Spain’s world champion soccer team, Vicente del Bosque, is a man of few words and gestures. However, last week he experienced one of the most emotional moments of his life when he fulfilled the dream of his 21 year-old son Alvaro, who suffers from Down’s Syndrome, by allowing him to hold up the World Cup trophy to the applause of the team.

“My son changed my life,” Del Bosque has said on more than one occasion. Alvaro is his second son, and Del Bosque learned that he had Down’s Syndrome several weeks after his birth. “At first we cried a lot,” he told author Gemma Herrero for her book, “39 Stories of Solidarity Surrounding Sports,” but he added, “Now when I look back I think, we were so foolish.”

via Spanish soccer coach fulfills wish for Down’s Syndrome son :: Catholic News Agency (CNA).

Autism and Summer: Summer Special Olympics

Nearly 3,000 athletes with autism, Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities are headed to Nebraska for the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games.

The Summer Games July 18-23 in Lincoln will feature athletes competing in 13 sports -  including swimming, soccer, track & field, bowling, golf, bocce, volleyball, gymnastics, tennis, powerlifting and  softball.

Organizers have erected a Special Olympics Town for the athletes, 1,000 coaches and 15,000 friends and family members expected to attend.

One feature – a 20-foot-long memory wall where people can write tributes to Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who died last year.

While this national event is huge – and the world Special Olympics next year in Athens will be even bigger, Special Olympics events are held nationwide and around the world.  (Sixteen Special Olympics soccer players showed the world just how talented they are during the World Cup.)  At any level, as the athletes compete, they change attitudes about intellectual disabilities, and they become more confident and empowered.

Do you have a family member competing in the Special Olympics? Everyone’s a winner in these Games!

via Pershing to be Special Olympics Town.

Autism: Fathers, Sons, The Yankees & Autism

Here’s a good post by Senior Sports Producer Jeff Capellini, who recently took his 7-year-old son to his first Yankee game. The deafening cheers that followed a grand slam were not what the dad of a PDD-NOS kid was looking for, but, as you’ll see, dad and son got something out of the game, anyway.

I might have been the only person in the Bronx on Sunday who didn’t do backflips when Jorge Posada crushed that grand slam against the Houston Astros.

As the ball sailed deep into a sea of humanity in right center I was instantly beamed to a place I feared I’d visit at some point during my 7-year-old son’s first visit to Yankee Stadium.

It was damage control time in the world of the autistic spectrum.

via Green Lantern: Fathers, Sons, The Yankees & Autism –

Florida Tech’s tennis clinic raises autism attention

Students at Florida Tech’s Scott Center for Autism Treatment had a ball and learned valuable skills, thanks to the university’s tennis team, which recently hosted a tennis clinic for the children.

The event was part of “Aces for Autism,” the tennis team’s initiative to raise awareness and funds for the Scott Center. The clinic addressed the specific needs of children with autism and provided a fun activity for their families. The tennis team also gained valuable skills in helping children with disabilities.

via ‘Aces’ raises autism attention | | FLORIDA TODAY.

Father of autistic child running in 60 marathons

Funny how someone can run for miles and miles and get absolutely nowhere. Like being stuck in the mud.

Meet Sam Felsenfeld.”When you’re out there training, there’s plenty of time to think,” he said, “and I was thinking, why not run with a purpose in mind? And I always came back to my son Jack. What can I do?”

His middle son, Jack, 6 1/2, is severly autistic.”Jack is making gradual progress, but he’s still in diapers and can’t talk on his own,” said his father.An idea was formed. Why not run a bunch of marathons in order to raise money and generate nationwide awareness for this crippling disease?

First, he had to throw out the idea to his wife of 11 years, Tiffany.”Obviously, I needed her support,” he said, “and I thought for sure she was going to call me crazy.

“Instead, she said to go for it. ‘If you don’t do it now you’ll be kicking yourself the rest of your life.’ ”A charity called Train 4 Autism was born. This is a program that allows athlete to compete their way to raising funds, helps them get through races and gives them a fundraising page on the internet.

via Rochester, MN.