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Sunday, July 4, 2004

Local firms support Special Olympians


Your voice: Jan Michelson

My son Nathan's first Special Olympics experience was in the spring of 1983. Nathan was about 9 months old and his big event was to "roll over!"

He's come so far since then, thanks in many ways to Hamilton County Special Olympics.

Nathan was only 10 when we saw a weightlifting demonstration by athletes at a local mall. He decided he wanted to do that. When he turned 14 he began training and has been competing since he was 16. Nathan weighs 129 pounds, bench-presses 160 pounds and dead-lifts 285 pounds. Coached by a group of Cincinnati firefighters, he is training to compete in the Spring Games in Lockland and the State Games in Columbus.

Nathan plays soccer and basketball - last year his team won third place in the state tournament. He also plays unified softball and bowling, where he and his fellow Special Olympians are on teams with peer athletes without mental or developmental disabilities.

Nathan has developed many strong friendships because of Special Olympics. He is now 21, a graduate of Oak Hills High School. He works full time at Provident Bank downtown. But he still enjoys participating in Special Olympics and its zany fund-raiser on Fountain Square, the Cincinnati Corporate Olympics.

This year's Cincinnati Corporate Olympics is at noon July 15. The event has teams from local companies paired with athletes from Hamilton County Special Olympics, and they compete in games like the Late-for-Work-Again Relay and the Profit Squeezer.

Corporate Olympics is a major fund-raiser for Hamilton County Special Olympics, and all the money raised - nearly $450,000 in seven years - serves Special Olympians in our county. The generosity of the participating companies enables Hamilton County Special Olympics to continue to provide many opportunities for people with disabilities. I invite you to come down to the square July 15 - you'll definitely get drawn into the spirit of fun.

In case you haven't detected, I am very proud of my son and extremely grateful for the opportunities Hamilton County Special Olympics has given him. I am certain he would not have the chance to compete in so many events otherwise. Cincinnati Corporate Olympics supports Hamilton County Special Olympics so they can support Nathan and his fellow competitors.

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Jan Michelson is employed by the Hamilton County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. She is the mother of three children, Erin, Shannon and Nathan, and grandmother to Morgan.

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