+
More

Susie has Down syndrome. For years, she didn't talk, until she found a sport that made her want to.

What she did to overcome her social anxiety is pretty impressive.

Susie Doyens has Down syndrome, and it left her almost mute due to social pressure and anxiety.

Written notes and communicating through her mother were her ways of "talking" to the world when she was a child.

Fast forward to 2001, when she was asked to be part of the Special Olympics Global Messenger training that teaches public speaking, and its emissaries talk to people — publicly — about those with special needs.


Check out her story:

Discovering Special Olympics changed her life.

It wasn't all that long ago that families who had kids born with Down syndrome were encouraged to take them to institutions, drop them off, and never look back. In fact, Susie's parents, Lynda and Dan, were encouraged to do just that.

In an interview with the Special Olympics, Dan, Susie's dad, remembers: “The pediatrician that told us [that she had Downs syndrome] says, 'Well, maybe you should just drop her off at a home and leave her there.' And we said, 'No, we can't do that.'"

Fortunately for Susie, they were not about to do anything of the sort. Instead, they worked with her year after year, until at age 9, Susie was still not speaking. She was so painfully shy, she'd look at people's shoes rather than in their eyes. "Her head was always down," according to her dad.

She communicated almost exclusively via written words on paper.

But then, she discovered Special Olympics, where she got to play golf with professionals in a program called “Unified Golf."

As her skills grew, so did her desire to communicate with others using her actual voice. She built relationships with other players, and she was highly competitive, seeking a gold medal where she could.

Susie has competed in 10 sports during her nearly three decades in Special Olympics, but golf is the sport she's most passionate about.

Now, she looks people right in the eye — by playing golf in the Special Olympics and speaking to thousands of people through the Global Messenger program.

"Special Olympics makes me feel good about myself. And I love public speaking," says Susie.

"Special Olympics helped me find my voice."

Indeed. And a beautiful voice it is.

What's the Special Olympics all about?

Timothy Shriver, Chairman & CEO of Special Olympics, says that people with intellectual disabilities tend to believe that their opinions are not important and that others can speak for them better. That certainly happened in Susie's case.

The mission statement for the organization lays it all out:

"The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community."

More than 4.4 million athletes from over 170 countries participate every year in training and competitions.

And once every two years, the program holds the biggest competition, the Special Olympics World Games. The most recent summer games, held in Los Angeles, ended in early August 2015.

Check them out. And here's a place to read more of Susie's story. For a longer, more detailed video on her parents and her transformation, check this video out.

A size 21 Nike shoe made for Tacko Fall.

A local reporter at Hometown Life shared a unique and heartfelt story on March 16 about a mother struggling to find shoes that fit her 14-year-old son. The story resonated with parents everywhere; now, her son is getting the help he desperately needs. It's a wonderful example of people helping a family that thought they had nowhere to turn.

When Eric Kilburn Jr. was born, his mother, Rebecca’s OBGYN, told her that he had the “biggest feet I’ve ever seen in my life. Do not go out and buy baby shoes because they’re not gonna fit,’” Rebecca told Today.com. Fourteen years later, it’s almost impossible to find shoes that fit the 6’10” freshman—he needs a size 23.

Keep ReadingShow less

Dog does the 'pick a card' challenge and it's adorable.

There are a few kinds of dog parents: ones that only have outside dogs, those who have inside dogs but they're absolutely not allowed on the furniture and dog parents who treat their dog as if they birthed them themselves and give them every luxury invented for four-legged fur children.

Clearly, people are going to have feelings one way or the other about dogs and their place within a household, but I think everyone can agree that seeing a dog be pampered will always be adorable. Opie the Pit Bully is one of those lucky doggos who wound up living in the lap of luxury, and the pooch got to do a "pick a card" day to showcase that his owner loves him the mostest.

In a video uploaded to TikTok by Opie's owner because...ya know, opposable thumbs and all…Opie is faced with two cards that he can't read: 1) because he's a dog, and 2) because the cards are facing toward the camera. That doesn't stop the sweet puppers from playing along, though.

Keep ReadingShow less

A Korean mother and her son

A recently posted story on Reddit shows a mother confidently standing up for her family after being bullied by a teacher for her culture. Reddit user Flowergardens0 posted the story to the AITA forum, where people ask whether they are wrong in a specific situation.

Over 5,600 people commented on the story, and an overwhelming majority thought the mother was right. Here’s what went down:

“I (34F) have a (5M) son who attends preschool. A few hours after I picked him up from school today, I got a phone call from his teacher,” Flowergardens0 wrote. “She made absolutely no effort to sound kind when she, in an extremely rude and annoyed tone, told me to stop packing my son such ‘disgusting and inappropriate’ lunches."

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by David Cadenas on Unsplash

What we imagine the look on Mr/ Pickles' face to be after becoming a dad.

It’s been an exciting time for a couple of tortoises at the Houston Zoo—and really, for tortoises everywhere.

The zoo announced on its blog that their oldest resident, Mr. Pickles, a 90-year-old radiated tortoise, and his 53-year-old companion Mrs. Pickles (that’s quite an age gap there sir, but no judgment) recently welcomed three new hatchlings.

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any better, here are the new baby names: Dill, Gherkin and Jalapeño.

Clearly, Jalepeño is the spicy one of the bunch.

While this news is certainly momentous for Mr. and Mrs. Pickles, it’s also a huge achievement for the entire species, which is currently critically endangered.
Keep ReadingShow less

Grace Linn, 100, speaks at a Martin County School Board meeting on March 21, 2023.

Four hundred years ago, copies of William Tyndale’s English translation of the Bible were publicly burned by the bishop of London, with church authorities insisting that the Bible should only be read in Latin (and only by the clergy). In the centuries since, many books we now consider classics such as Daniel Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe," Jack London's "Call of the Wild," Walt Whitman’s "Leaves of Grass," Victor Hugo’s "Les Misérables, Charles Darwin’s "Origin of Species"—even Beatrix Potter's "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" and "Benjamin Bunny"—have been banned or censored in one way or another in various countries.

Battles over books are nothing new, but once in a while, they become particularly ugly or absurd, prompting people to speak out against book bans.

People like 100-year-old Florida resident, Grace Linn, whose speech at a Martin County School Board meeting has gone viral.

Keep ReadingShow less
The Tonight Show/ Youtube

Jennifer Aniston appearing on "The Tonight show"

Let’s face it, platonic relationships between men and women rarely get the same amount of attention as romantic ones, to the point where we debate whether or not they can actually exist in the first place.

That’s what makes a clip of Jennifer Aniston gushing about her decades-long friendship with Adam Sandler so cool to watch. There’s no Harry-Met-Sally-ing here, just one pal talking about another pal.

Aniston sat down with Jimmy Fallon to promote the film “Murder Mystery 2,” starring both Aniston and Sandler, but the conversation quickly veered into several anecdotes about “The Sand Man,” including how the two first met at a deli in their 20s.

As with any healthy friendship, there’s plenty of ragging on each other.

Keep ReadingShow less