My family and I were preparing to head to the Bowling State Competition when my mom received a text asking her to hop on a Zoom call. Little did we know it would have been an announcement that I was selected as Athlete of the Year. My mom thought the purpose of the zoom call was to review the rules for being a chaperone. It took me two days to sink in - Athlete of the Year.
I was on the bus heading to the State Bowling Competition when it sunken in. I didn't even know there was such an award. As we arrived at the State Bowling competition, my mom received a call, "Hey, Madison was selected as the torch bearer for the opening ceremony. Can you make your way to the big bowling pin, please?" We had just stepped off the bus when I had to run to meet Terence, get a T-shirt and script, and practice in 20 minutes. Thank goodness I can move swiftly. Although nervous, I walked with the torch with the biggest smile; I have always wanted the opportunity to be a torch bearer, and now it is a reality.
I was five years old when I told my parents I wanted to do gymnastics. We were living overseas then, and the schedule conflicted with my mom's job. Five months after returning to the USA, I was enrolled with Leap. The coaches at Leap and I clicked. Gymnastics became my go-to as many Autistic children struggle with transition, tantrums, and meltdowns. Somehow, being in the gym, flipping, twisting, and cartwheeling, among other skills, relaxes me. The more I trained, the less meltdown I had. When I began training at Leap, I did not meet the qualifications for Special Olympics. At the same time, I was also preparing for swimming. Once I met the Special Olympics qualification, my gymnastics and swimming coaches signed me up. It has been non-stop since then. During summer, my brother Elijah begged for me to join in at Bowling.
It turned out terrific; as his teammate we won first place in Bowling. Gymnastics has been and will always be my primary sport, but in 2024, I will begin tough training for Track and Field and yes I will be still training for gymnastics. Gymnastics is a year-round sport.
When I asked "why was I selected for such a prestigious award?", I was told it was because of my hard work and dedication to sports among the Madison and Elijah book series I coauthored, my blog posts with Lauren Simone Publishing, being an ambassador, and being a volunteer at such a young age.
I am grateful for my parents and the team of therapists, coaches, and family that believes in me. When I was younger, I was not easy to deal with. My speech therapist would give me those looks. Coach Lauren has seen me at my lowest and my highest. In my lowest moments, she became my second mom; she would sit and wait out my meltdown, just like my mom would. I didn't just have one therapist; I had several from Youth N Action, including my fitness coach. They know me so well that they incorporate fitness into my OT session, making OT much more fun. And my fitness coach pushed me to the limit, but he would never win. I always pushed myself until he told me to stop. I share my Athlete of the Year award with my parents. Without them, I would not be where I am today. I drive my parents up the wall, but they have never failed me. My parents altered their lives so I could accomplish my goals. As 2024 rolls around, I have a few goals in mind; my mom has already had me place them on my vision board, and with my parent's help, they shall come to pass.
Here is a list of my accomplishments:
2022 Traveled to Slovakia to represent Special Olympics FL
2023 Special Olympics State Bowling Competition
2023 Youth N Action 2ns place in Adaptive Showdown
2019 Gymnastics Florida Crown
2021 Special Olympics State Competition
2021 Special Olympics Regional
2022 Qualified for Special Olympics State Competition
2022 - I trained at a typical gym, Tumble Bee, and competed in several competitions; only my coaches knew I had Autism
State Competition, where I won 1st on Vault for Tumble Bee
2023 USA Gymnastics Special Olympics Champion
2023 Special Olympics State Competition
2021 Runway of Dreams Miami
2023 Bold and Grit Activewear
Ms. ARC Broward
2019 Ms. ARC Broward
2021 Ms. ARC Broward
2021 Special Olympics Race for Inclusion
2021 Avmed Orange Bowl
2021 Bubble Run
2022 Special Olympics Race for Inclusion
2022 Bubble Run
Special Olympics Camp Shiver
2023 Spring and Summer Camp
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