Valley Life for All: Gail Morning garners Gold at the Colorado Special Olympics
Editor’s note: The Post Independent, in conjunction with Valley Life For All, publishes a monthly series about fostering inclusion.
She holds onto three glimmering medals around her neck and grins. Gail Morning is adding this metal hardware to her some 100 medals gathering space at her home. She is a Special Olympics champion.
Having recently moved here from Pennsylvania to the Western Slope, Morning joined the Vail Barracudas, a team focused on persons with disabilities of all ages. This summer, the Vail Barracudas traveled to Grand Junction for the Special Olympic Colorado State Summer Games, and Morning swam her way to two gold medals and one bronze medal, in the 400 and 100 freestyle events.
She is somewhat of a professional Special Olympian, having begun competing in them at age 5. The vivacious 38-year-old, who has a learning disability, has won medals in all 16 Special Olympics (S.O.) in swimming, bocce ball and basketball, but weight lifting is her favorite S.O. sport.
Besides her obvious competitive streak, she enjoys the S.O. for other reasons: “I just have a lot of fun meeting and making friends. That’s where I met my fiancé, Daniel. We’re getting married in September.” Daniel Gibson was competing in the S.O. when he met Morning.
In October, they’re having all their S.O. friends over for a special ceremony. “It’s going to be really special,” says Morning.
Family support has encouraged her through every S.O.
“They cheer me on. They make me nervous and cheer me on,” she laughs. “I’m just kidding. My dad’s proud of me, and Daniel is proud of me.”
The Special Olympics has afforded her to travel to China, Ireland and Egypt.
“I went to the Special Olympics in 2007. It was a challenge because of the people speaking a different language, but I did like the Chinese food.”
She went to Ireland for weightlifting competition and to Egypt to help out with the S.O. team there. “I taught them how to swim,” she says.
Morning says to those who have disabilities and who love sports, “To get where I am at, keep trying and keep working hard. My coach, he kept challenging me by (changing the goals), so I get better and better.”
She wholly endorses the Special Olympics program: “I encourage people with disabilities to try the Special Olympics because they’ll meet new friends and new coaches. It feels great to challenge myself with new athletic goals.”
Morning says humbly of her ever-growing cache of medals, “I feel proud.”
Local nonprofit Valley Life For All is working to build inclusive communities where people of all abilities belong and contribute. Find us at http://www.valleylifeforall.org or on Facebook.
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