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Brave in the attempt: Special Olympics Kentucky

The Morehead News - 4/11/2018

"Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."

That is the mantra of Special Olympics Kentucky, a program which Rowan native DesaRae Nickell has participated in for eight years.

Nickell is not only a Special Olympic athlete, but is a member of the athlete leadership program, which allows her to speak on behalf of Special Olympics Kentucky.

She was also the torch bearer for this year's state winter games, which marked the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics.

Nickell does alpine skiing, the slalom, and the giant slalom in the winter, and bowling and track and field in the summer.

"There were no sports or activities for people like me who have special needs to do around here until I found the Special Olympics," Nickell says. "This is all there is for people with special needs to do."

She says her favorite parts of participating in the Special Olympics is traveling and meeting new people from across the state.

"And of course the competition," she says. "I am very competitive."

Children can begin competing in the Special Olympics at age 8, and the program is open to any child with special needs.

Nickell and her family will be hosting a car wash June 23, weather pending, to help support the costs for local children to participate.

Nickell's mother, Sheena, says she would like to see an increase in community support for Special Olympic athletes.

"They work really hard on their sport, and they deserve support and recognition for that," she says.

There are over 8,700 Special Olympic athletes in Kentucky.

The Special Olympics is a year-round program, with 15 sports for athletes to choose from.

Between local, area, regional and state competitions, Special Olympics Kentucky produces more than 120 competitive events each year, with events in every season.

By participating in the Special Olympics, athletes are also eligible for the Healthy Athletes program, which provides hearing, vision, dental, physical therapy, and foot screenings free of charge.

A primary goal of Special Olympics Kentucky is to help athletes become more active participants in the communities in which they live, thereby creating acceptance and understanding of people with disabilities.

Nickell says that goal has been fulfilled through her.

"Special Olympics has helped me come out of my shell," she says. "I look forward to every practice and event. There are so many sports to choose from, people to meet, and places to travel. They all have been great experiences."

Special Olympic athletes from this area will participate in regional competition Saturday, April 21, at Johnson Central High School.

The state summer games will take place June 1-3, at Eastern Kentucky University.

Nickell says she would love seeing people from the community come out and support her and the other local athletes who compete.

For more information about Special Olympics Kentucky, visit

Megan Smedley can be reached at or by telephone at 784-4116.


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