Virginia General Assembly Recognizes 2011 World Games Team Virginia

Congratulations to the nine Special Olympics Virginia athletes who were presented with House and Senate Joint Center-Aisle Resolutions in February 2012 commending them for their accomplishments during the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece.

"You all are to be commended for your perseverance and the excellence you have demonstrated," said Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling. "You have made us proud, and you've helped us remember what the important things in life are really all about. And to Jonathan [Fried], I'm going to adopt, for the rest of the legislative session, your motto: play like a tiger, not like a chicken."

The athletes, whose World Games successes included three gold, seven silver and four bronze medals, each were presented with a House Joint Resolution in the center aisle of the House Chambers Wednesday, Feb. 22. Immediately following the House presentation, the athletes made their way over to the Senate Chambers, where each athlete also was presented with a Senate Joint Resolution in the Senate center aisle.

“When a person with an intellectual disability can be recognized as an honored citizen, a role model, a person of dignity, a leader,” said Rick Jeffrey, Special Olympics Virginia president, “it is significant of a new inclusive way of thinking that will help us all learn how we can share each other’s gifts and live better together.”

More important than Team Virginia’s 14 medals, though, was the group’s victory in changing the world’s perception of people with intellectual disabilities in Athens. In front of a global audience of millions, members of Team Virginia showed the world that anyone can succeed at what they put their mind to when given a chance.

The 2011 Special Olympics Virginia World Summer Games athletes were:

  • Grace Anne Braxton, golf; GOLD in women's 18-hole tournament
  • Jon Fried, tennis; SILVER in men's tennis singles; BRONZE in mixed doubles
  • Jennifer Ruley, bocce; SILVER in bocce singles, bocce doubles and the bocce team competition
  • Daniel Certa, bowling; BRONZE in bowling singles and SILVER in bowling doubles
  • Joey Layton, tennis; SILVER in tennis doubles; BRONZE in mixed doubles
  • Karen Dickerson, track & field; GOLD in the 10,000M and GOLD in the half marathon
  • David Curtin, golf; SILVER in men's 18-hole tournament
  • Rose Pleskow, track & field; BRONZE in the 1500M and 4th in the 800M
  • Elizabeth Klein, swimming; 4th in the 50 & 100M freestyle, and 8th in the 4x50M freestyle relay