The All Sports Association is proud to announce Edward Shackleford as the Special Olympics Award winner for 2015. As a child, Edward was diagnosed with severe health disorders, including seizures. His physical condition affected muscle tone,movement and motor skills. At one point, Edward required continuous supervision to ensure physical safety due to the severity of his disability and health issues. The atrophy in Edward’s hand, arm and leg on one side of his body made exercise not only challenging but almost impossible. Edward’s sedentary life style eventually caused him to become overweight—to the point of obesity.
In Junior high school, Edward’s quality of life began to change when adaptive PE coach, Deb Bailey, introduced Edward to Special Olympics. During PE, Edward started out walking at a slow pace. Eventually he became strong enough and coordinated enough to power walk. “Soon,” Coach Bailey nostalgically says, “the pounds began to fly off.” Edward began pushing himself to the limits every time he practiced, developing a strong inner drive to achieve success.
Edward’s hard work has paid off as he brought home two gold medals last year during the State competition at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports. Edward’s enthusiasm was so profound that he attracted the attention of a local reporter who interviewed him for a segment on Special Olympic athletes. The program was subsequently broadcasted on the Sunshine Network, a sister network to Fox Sports Florida.
Edward has many interests and is always looking to participate in new sports. In the 2015 games, he will not only compete in the 100 meter walk and shot put, but he has also decided to try two new events—tennis and bocce. Edward displays courage and excitement every time he takes the court or field. He is an exemplary representative of his community and Special Olympics athletes in their entirety. He is always the hardest working athlete on the field and he is proud to be a part of Special Olympics, as it has been a huge part of his life.
As fine an athlete as Edward is, he is an even finer young man. He consistently shows a great attitude in the classroom. The same work ethic that has made him such a superb athlete has also made him a strong student. Edward is an A-average student whose name can consistently be found on the honor roll, a fact that Edward is very proud of.
Edward lives with his Aunt, Aimee Gudinas, and his cousins whom Edward looks up to. Ms. Gudinas, a devoted guardian, is supportive of everything Edward does. She can always be heard in the crowd shouting out words of encouragement every time Edward crosses the finish line.
Edward Shackleford was selected as the All Sports Association’s 2015 Special Olympics Award not just for his accomplishments as an athlete, but also for his positive attitude toward everything that he does and for his willingness to always encourage others to do their very best. He is very deserving and was humbled to learn of this award.