KERN COUNTY, Calif. — Tanya Mitchell is good at bowling.
So good that she took her talents to the 2022 Special Olympics U.S.A. Games in Orlando, Florida, last month.
She has the medals to prove it.
"I got third place, three times in a row," she said. "One for singles, one for doubles, and one for unified team.”
Tanya had a blast representing Kern County in another state.
“It was fantastic going up against other teams that I normally don’t get to meet," she said.
Tanya has been a Special Olympics Kern County athlete for over ten years. It’s made a big difference in her life and she encourages everyone to get involved.
“Other people that are in Special Olympics are a lot like you and may have similar disabilities to what you have, [so] just go out and be comfortable around peers of your own," she said.
Tanya’s next goal?
Going to the Special Olympics World games.
“I’ll get there at some point," she said.
Meanwhile, Dawn Albritton went to Orlando for golf.
"I was honored to get chosen to go as a golfer," she said. "That was a very amazing experience.”
Dawn is going on thirteen years with the Special Olympics.
“And hopefully more years to come," she said.
It’s taught her a lot and helped form lifelong relationships.
“I have more confidence in myself," said Dawn. "I never ever figured I would make friends easily but then I met Kellie and all the coaches, and they were all welcoming and supportive, and I made a lot more friends.”
Kellie Peterson is a Special Olympics coach and sports manager.
She’s grown close with her athletes over the years and said she’s seen how big of an impact Special Olympics can have on people with disabilities.
"Don’t let anyone tell you that your child is 'never going to,'" said Kellie. "'They’re never going to walk. They’re never going to talk. This is all you’re going to get,' because [they] don’t realize how far they can go.”
Dawn hopes to become a coach herself one day, and whether these athletes are hitting golf balls or bowling pins, they’re proving you can do anything you set their mind to.
Kellie said the Special Olympics always need more volunteers. To learn more about getting involved, click here.
Kern’s Kindness is all about positive stories in our community like this one. If you know someone who should be featured, email firstname.lastname@example.org.