He's the excited person on the left!

Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2012 11:13:13 -0500

Office of the Governor Rick Perry Committee on People with Disabilities

Richmond Supported Living Center Athlete Enjoys San Juan Special Olympics

If you’re feeling your age, seeing it in the mirror and about ready to surrender to the Elastic Waistband Stage of life, put down that Cinnabon and take a moment to read the story of David Anderson.

David Anderson

At the age of 48, Anderson — a 29-year resident of the Richmond State Supported Living Center — just won silver and bronze medals in last month’s Special Olympics International Games in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Anderson also competes regularly and at a high level in other Special Olympics events such as track and field, Level 2 springboard diving and bowling. He’s even a masterful rider in equestrian events, in which he’s won numerous award, medals, and buckles.

Cynthia Fannin, Richmond’s director of Education and Training, knows Anderson as well as anyone. Along with his coach, Donald Mikeska, she interacts daily with him when he’s preparing for a big meet. Although David’s an experienced, self-motivated athlete, Fannin helps him develop and stick to strategies for each event — including the potentially attention-sapping matters of travel and logistics.

"Every afternoon at 4 leading up to the International Games I personally met with David to discuss items on a training checklist that I made for him,” Fannin said. "That was so he’d be aware of the necessary plans to make this trip happen. I also made certain he attended all telephone conferences with the Special Olympic Committee to ask questions and exchange information about the trip.”

Malory Edwards

Along with Fannin and Mikeska, other supporters who traveled to San Juan were Richmond nurse Adelpha Castillo, direct support professional Ravon Sanders and Anderson’s buddy Malory Edwards, a fellow Richmond Special Olympian who stars in track and field. Fannin also said credit was due to a large, non-traveling Team David consisting of Richmond staff and friends who supported Anderson in many ways. They included Mario Simmons, Cassandra Uzomah, Tom Virippan, Eilleen Holmes, Frank Rainer, Inez Espinosa, Nathan Lee, Diana Dockal, Delores Stoker, Timothy Weatherby, Robin Eversole, Jane Purcell, Donna Jesse, Valerie Ditta, Monty Chamberlain,Chris Adams and George and Judy Boyem/American PromoPrint, Inc.

But of all these supporters, Fannin said the most important may have been Edwards, a younger athlete who could relate to Anderson on the crucial jock-talk level. "They’ve traveled together to Texas Special Olympics events and our off-campus trips,” Fannin said, adding that the youthful-at-heart Anderson also shares some of Edwards’ tastes in leisure and recreational activities. Fannin said the guys’ strong bro-bond ultimately led Anderson to select Edwards for the honor of "supporting and cheering him on during this monumental milestone in his life.”

Thanks to a combination of all this support and David’s own talent and determination, he took the silver medal in the 50-meter freestyle and a bronze in the 25-meter butterfly. Based on past performances, no one was shocked at David’s success, but Fannin said the elite competition (featuring 300 athletes from 17 countries) and the gorgeous natural setting made the trip special. Both athletes made a point of thanking Fannin and their other supporters for helping them experience this ultimate road trip. "Malory expressed to me throughout the trip that this was the most beautiful place he’d ever visited and thanked me through the trip for a great memory and experience,” Fannin said.

"David mentioned that he’d forever love me for making it possible for him to visit Diana Quirros, his friend of 26 years who retired from Richmond six years ago. She now lives in Puerto Rico and came to his competition every day. He’d just light up as he looked into the stands and saw her cheering him on.” Whether or not Anderson ever tops this peak experience, he’s made a clear statement to all his fellow middle-agers that they can not only be physically vital but even accomplish athletic feats they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.

Now…how about a nice low-fat smoothie and a walk in the cool autumn air?

Reposted from an article from Texas HHSC newsletter, "The Connection,” October 22, 2012

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