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Special Olympics Iowa athlete dissapointed but looking forward to next year's Summer Games

Ames Tribune - 5/28/2019

May 28--Special Olympics Iowa athlete Kim Lively, of Ames, was looking forward to competing in bocce during the Summer Games Friday morning. She had been practicing in her back yard throughout the year in preparation for the event.

However, Kim was disappointed to learn the bocce event was canceled, and several other competitions relocated, as a result of inclement weather.

As the athlete representative on this year's Summer Games planning committee, she also was disappointed their hard work had been thwarted.

Katey Lively, Kim's mother, said even though Kim was sad to hear she would not be competing during this year's event, she has already started organizing her team for next year's competition.

"We understand the issues," Katey said. "Kim is feeling sorry for all involved."

The Summer Games is Special Olympics Iowa's biggest competition and celebration of the year. More than 2,600 Special Olympics athletes and Unified partners gathered in Ames for the event from May 23-25. In addition to the athletes and partners, who were competing for more than 4,000 awards, there were approximately 3,000 volunteers, staff and coaches involved.

Six different sports competitions, including athletics (track and field), bocce, cycling, soccer, tennis and swimming, were expected to take place throughout the 2 1/2-day event held at various locations across the Iowa State University campus.

Kim, who has competed in track, bowling and softball in the past, was set to compete in her favorite sport, bocce. She learned how to play from her sister and friends.

"Ever since, it's a family get together, and I really enjoy it," Kim said. "There's lots of athletes that are really good and participate."

Her goal for every competition is to get a gold medal. She has nine shadow boxes at home filled with the medals and ribbons she has earned in the past. Eventually, she also hopes to earn hall of fame recognition.

"My sister was a big athlete and my brother was a football player in high school, and I wanted to be one of them," she said. "My sister is on the hall of fame, and I want to get to that point."

When her siblings were competing during high school, Kim was their biggest fan. Now, she is happy to say they are her biggest fans.

"They are cheering me on, and it's fun," Kim said. "Some of my sister's athletes text me 'how are you doing' and are giving me encouragement. And one of the basketball players at ISU is a big fan of me."

As a proud Cyclone fan since she was a little girl, Kim said she is happy when ISU players and students recognize her. She especially enjoys when people who know her because of Special Olympics come up and talk to her while she is working at the Walmart on Duff Avenue.

"The community is very supportive," Katey said. "It's a warm community for Special Olympians, and people are just very supportive and kind. As a mother, it's always pleasant when we go somewhere and they call her by name."

Kim said a lot of people also know her through her work as a global messenger for Special Olympics Iowa.

The global messenger program is designed to teach Special Olympics athletes how to speak publicly in front of a variety of audiences. Athletes are paired with speech coaches so they are able to address audiences about Special Olympics.

"My secret is when I go up and am behind the podium, I bounce my knee," Kim said. "That calms me down. When I was done speaking (at one event), I got a standing ovation from the basketball team. That was super. Really super. I got encouragement from the team, and I was so excited I gave them high fives."

Ever since she became a global messenger, giving speeches has become one Kim's favorite pastimes outside of competing. It is just one of the many things that Kim has accomplished.

"She went up and gave that speech, and I was extremely proud of her," Katey said. "It took a lot of courage to get up in front of that many people. Kim is a blessing.

"God has blessed us with Kim and she has just grown, and grown, and grown. It used to be where we couldn't get her to do anything, and now her favorite thing to do is speeches. We are very proud of her."

Another one of Kim's biggest accomplishments through Special Olympics is being named the 2015-16 Big 12 Female Athlete of the Year. Kim said she was shocked when she found out about the award.

"My mouth just dropped," Kim said. "When I went down to the Big 12 Tournament ... I couldn't sleep or nothing."

Overall, Kim said participating in Special Olympics Iowa has encouraged her to come our of her shell and given her self-confidence. Even though the bocce competition was canceled, she looks forward to participating in the future and encourages anyone who sees her, or any other athlete, to stop and say hello.

"Please, please walk up to an athlete on the street and just give them a big hug or shake hands with them," Kim said. "Acknowledge them. You get that smile out of the athlete."

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(c)2019 the Ames Tribune, Iowa

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