By Peyton Heller
Special Olympics Massachusetts Development Intern
Elizabeth Downs started getting involved with Special Olympics Massachusetts (SOMA) when her cousin, Andrew Lawson, joined several years ago. “I got involved with Special Olympics through my cousin Andrew. I would attend his swimming events and just be blown away at the excitement of the athletes, coaches, and spectators.”
Elizabeth is part of the 2017 Xtra Mile team for the Falmouth Road Race. With this being her third time running this race, she uses the motivation from Andrew to continue running. “This year my motivation behind Falmouth is my cousin Andrew. Andrew has been a Special Olympics athlete for several years now. Over the last two years he has been battling cancer. He is such a fighter! My aunt mentioned to me that Special Olympics had a team, and as soon as I was off the phone with her, I filled out my application. What better way to honor my pal than to run for the very organization that has given him so many wonderful, happy opportunities.”
Running with her best friend, Jill Stone, who is also apart of the Xtra Mile team, Elizabeth is very excited to have the opportunity to run this race once again. “I have run Falmouth twice. The event is amazing. The crowd is outstanding. Just pray that it’s not too hot!!!”
While Elizabeth has continued to watch Andrew compete in events over the years, her love for Special Olympics has grown tremendously. She is thankful for the opportunities that Special Olympics has given Andrew. “One word that comes to mind when I think of Special Olympics is “inspirational”. Special Olympics is an amazing organization. The opportunities they provide for their athletes are endless. I have been to several events and every time I watch athletes compete, cheer on their fellow teammates, and receive their medals I am left with a feeling of absolute amazement. Another word that comes to mind when I think of Special Olympics is “community.” The sense of family that they have provided for families with children that are disabled is something that most people are incredibly grateful for.”
The inspiration Elizabeth receives from Andrew is not only related to running, but also to her job. Elizabeth worked for North River Collaborative as an ABA therapist after she graduated from college but became an inclusion teacher three years later. Since then, she has been working at Cedar Elementary, switching between 2nd and 3rd grade. She thanks Andrew for inspiring her to become a teacher. “The inspiration for becoming a teacher was my cousin, Andrew Lawson. Andrew was born on March 19, 1990, and from the moment I met him, an interest sparked in regards to his early intervention and therapies. I knew it was the path I wanted to purse. Through Andrew’s parents I was introduced to what Special Olympics was, and how many wonderful opportunities it provides to children with disabilities.”
Special Olympics Massachusetts thanks you for your support and wishes you the best of luck on race day, Elizabeth!
Want to run Falmouth, bike in the Rodman Ride for Kids, or a number of other races? Join the Xtra Mile today!