She is training several athletes from Sarasota and Charlotte County to enter the Special Olympics in that particular sport, and her hopes are to enter them in a paddleboard race that takes place later in the year. With a mom who was a speech pathologist, Nicole has been working with children and adults with special needs since she was young. When she got into paddleboarding and became an instructor, she decided that everyone should be able to enjoy it. She started holding private lessons for special needs people, then heard about a race in Key West.
“That’s when I signed up to become a Special Olympics coach,” she said. “I did the training, and now coach about six kids from the two counties, since Englewood is split between Charlotte and Sarasota counties. The Special Olympics requires 10 counties in the state to enter to make it an official sport. We’re just working now on trying to fund the Charlotte County athletes. We will be staying one or two nights, but our first goal is to get them down there. Our secondary goal is raise enough money to expand and train more athletes next year, and buy more equipment.”
Nicole explained that each of the kids needs to take along his or her volunteer as well, as they can’t get in the water without them.
“Our goal is to get the kids to the point where they perform with verbal, not physical, assistance.”View More images >>
The events will take place in October. Until then, Nicole said everyone is invited to stop by Stump Pass Beach State Park every Sunday from 8 to 10 a.m.
“They would love the support and to have people cheering them on,” Nicole said. “And in July we will be launching a web site with more information about the Special Olympics project. Until then, people can call us with questions, or if they can help our athletes get to the race.”
The number for SUP Englewood is (941) 234-4311, go to supenglewood.com or on Facebook go to SUP Englewood.
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