By: Theresa Gaffney
Erin Delahunty—or “Tee-tee” as her nieces and nephews call her, because the first couldn’t pronounce “auntie”—loves to run. She started participating in Special Olympics events as a high schooler growing up in Connecticut. Delahunty says that she chose running because she wanted to see what track and field would be like, and figured it would be fun to be active outside. Decades later, at 40 years old, she’s still at it.
Delahunty is a distance runner, and an impressive one at that. At the 2003 World Games in Dublin, Ireland, she ran the 1500 and 3000 meter races. That’s a collective 3 miles of racing. Traveling to Ireland for the World Games was a monumental experience for Delahunty, as she met and competed with Special Olympics athletes from all over the world.
Delahunty received two silver medals at those World Games, and while she would love to return to the world stage for a chance at gold, she isn’t upset or disappointed by what she has already accomplished.
“It doesn’t matter if I get medals or ribbons, as long as I’m doing my best and supporting the team and practicing good sportsmanship,” Delahunty says. She truly embraces the idea that athletics is about getting out there, having fun, and staying fit. “As long as I do my best,” she says, “I’m happy.”
This is an attitude that Delahunty has cultivated through decades of competing, and having drilled into her head the voices of announcers at track meets: “Everybody’s a winner!” It’s an attitude that comes from having memorized the Special Olympics Athlete Oath (“Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”)
It’s an attitude that Delahunty tries to instill in her young nieces and nephews as they begin to compete in sports themselves. One nephew, at age 11 and going into sixth grade, doesn’t quite believe her yet. She tries to tell him that “it’s not all about winning,” but he doesn’t believe her. “You know how boys are at that age,” she laughs.
Delahunty is a three sport athlete, competing in track, soccer, and skiing for Special Olympics. However, as a lover of the outdoors, she does a lot to stay active with her family as well. She runs 5K races with her nieces and nephews, and everyone in her family skis together.
One of the hardest questions that can be posed to Delahunty is which sport is her favorite. “It’s hard to choose, because I just love to do outdoor events; it’s nice to get out there any time of year,” she says.
Athleticism is a lifestyle choice for Erin Delahunty, and it is one that she has most definitely mastered.
Related post: Humbled and Proud (8/13/2014)