Antonio's Story

Antonio walked away from the Special Olympics with countless pictures, new friends, and memorable stories, but it is what the experience means for him and his daughter that he will never forget.

Antonio’s passion for Bocce was first introduced to him by a former boss he had prior to starting at Ability KC Industries. He says from the moment he stepped on the court in his first Bocce game, he was hooked. Even though Antonio is relatively new to the sport, he quickly excelled and was invited to be in a program that allowed him to participate in the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games this past June.

Comparatively stationary to other sports, Antonio’s training for the Games consisted of activities such as walking, jogging, stretching, and event-specific drills to strengthen the muscles used for throwing a bocce ball. After a year of rigorous training, Antonio and his flew to Orlando, Florida to compete against Bocce players as far as Hawaii and the Caribbean. With guidance from his coach and biggest mentor, Antonio helped lead his team to multiple championships winning 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place in various matches throughout the Games.

In addition to playing in Bocce games, Antonio was able to venture out independently with his teammates to visit Disney World and stay in the All-Star Music resort. He met players from the famous basketball team, The Harlem Globetrotters, and even spent a couple of days on the sunny shores of the Atlantic Coast. Needless to say, the experience was filled with amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, but for Antonio, it was so much more.

Antonio says the experience of competing in the Special Olympic Games with his teammates gave him more than just fun memories. He learned valuable team building and communication skills that he utilizes to be effective in his work at Industries.

“Ability KC Industries programs provide individuals a place to feel safe where they can explore their potential. We are giving individuals the opportunity to work as a team, much like they do on a sports field, at a pace they are comfortable with. There is room to grow, make friends, and exhibit leadership skills, which Anthony has definitely shown he has. He expressed he is more focused and pushes himself now harder on and off the Bocce field.” -Marla Nelson, Workshop Operations Manager.

Antonio is very hopeful for his future, his daughter’s, and the opportunity to compete in future Special Olympic games.

“The experience I had at the Special Olympics means everything to me. To be able to play the sport I love in an inclusive environment and having so many people there to watch me and support me, was one of the best parts. I feel like I now have an upper hand at life, I want to do better for myself and my daughter. From this experience, I want to teach her to grow up independent and have the confidence to achieve whatever goals she has.”

A Better Tomorrow Starts Here

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a woman stretching with helper