Persons with special needs are often never given the opportunity to participate or succeed in sports as a student in the public school system. One such student is Brandon. He discovered Special Olympics while as high school student upon an invitation to join as an individual in a Ball throw competition, and later in a race. Neither he, nor his mother had ever been introduced to Special Olympics, and was unaware of the many programs it had to offer. Six years after that first competition, Brandon has been able to try many different sports, and has become a member of the Athlete Leadership Program. As a person with autism, he prefers the individual sports compared to the group/team sports. He took a liking to alpine skiing and has been winning medals in the sport for the past six years.
Brandon is just one of twenty six athletes from Broward County, Florida who will be participating in the Special Olympics Southeast Regional Winter Sports Competition Appalachian Ski Mountain on February 4-6, 2013. After three months of hard training, the athletes will head for the mountains, where they will receive more personalized alpine skiing training from the French-Swiss Ski College.
The Special Olympics Broward County Ski Team will be the only Florida county participating as they compete against other states from the Southeast who offer alpine skiing as part of their Special Olympics training programs.
Director/Coach Linda Mills oversees the alpine ski program in Broward from beginning to end. Under her direct supervision she has volunteer certified coaches to assist in the weekly dryland trainings held on the beaches of Dania where the athletes practice skills, endurance and technique utilizing the erosion of the beach to simulate downhill snow slopes. The dryland training method used in South Florida is unique and has proven very successful. Coach Mills has tweaked the dryland training for maximum results . Two athletes, Norval Hall and Kerri Leonardo of Special Olympics Broward have been chosen to represent Florida as part of Team USA . They will be among the 212 athletes from USA attending the Special Olympics World Winter games held in Pyeong Chang Korea January 29- February 5, 2013.