For those who don’t know Greggory Gallant, he’s a Special Olympics athlete and an employee of Special Olympics Massachusetts, among many, many other things. He also has a great sense of humor. The following is a Q&A between Gregg and Chris Richie, Communications Manager at Special Olympics MA.
Gregg Gallant, center, skiing in the 2013 Special Olympics MA Winter Games at Wachusett Mountain.
Chris: So Gregg, as an athlete, is Special Olympics just for the athletes? Who else benefits from being a part of it?
Gregg: We all – coaches, athletes, family members, volunteers – benefit from it. We teach each other how to work as a team and better our skills. Socially, athletically, personally, the benefits are super rewarding.
Chris: When did you first begin with Special Olympics?
Gregg: In 2005, the first sport I started with was skiing.
Chris: Had you skied before joining Special Olympics? How old were you?
Gregg: I was taught how to ski at a young age at McIntyre Ski Area in Manchester, New Hampshire and I still enjoy skiing at Loon Mountain for fun and Ward Hill for competition practice. I believe that my parents started me out at the early age because they wanted me to love skiing. Ever since I could walk I can remember that skiing was big for me. I also really love going fast downhill with the wind blowing all around me.
Chris: Is it safe to say skiing is your favorite sport, or are there other sports you like just as much?
Gregg: It’s safe to say that skiing is my favorite sport, just because I was taught at a young age. I do so many other sports with Special Olympics Massachusetts, but nothing is better than doing what your good at. Skiing is that for me.
Chris: Do you have a favorite mountain you like to ski on?
Gregg: Well, I ski at three mountains in the wintertime, Ward Hill, which consists of less than nine trails; Loon Mountain, which has 61 trails, four peaks; and Wachusett Mountain, which has about 25 trails. But the one mountain that I ski at the most, know my way around and love to ski at is Loon Mountain.
Chris: Have you won any medals skiing with Special Olympics Massachusetts?
Gregg: Yes, I have as a matter of fact. I have, but I have so much competition, which makes my chance for gold harder but not impossible.
Chris: Alright, one more round of questions. How old were you when you first started with Special Olympics, have you made friends through it, and how long will you participate in Special Olympics?
Gregg: I was either 16 or 17 when I started competing with the local Shrewsbury program of Special Olympics Massachusetts. I have met many people with special needs. I have a few I keep in touch with on a weekly basis and others on a seasonal basis. I believe I will be a Special Olympics athlete until the day I ski into the clouds.