Napervillian Grace Seiboldt is ready to make a splash at the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle.
The 21-year-old athlete has been swimming for years and just last fall earned her spot on Team Illinois.
“I will be swimming the 400 freestyle, 200 breaststroke, the 200 IM, and the 4X100 medley relay,” said Grace.
Before she left for the games, family, friends, and some local leaders came out for pictures, pizza, and of course swimming, to wish Grace some luck.
“She’s very capable of going for a long time,” said Blake Cline, Grace’s STEPS teacher and coach. “Her endurance is great, she’s got great stamina, and also in a clutch position she’s really able to excel. So if she’s down or something or we’re not in the lead she can actually see the other racers and it comes from inside and she’ll be able to speed past them.”
That dedication and the support from loved ones has helped Grace overcome the everyday obstacles of being on the autism spectrum.
“When Grace was three years old people weren’t sure if she was going to be able to speak. And to see her just flourish into an amazing young woman has been great,” said Grace’s older brother Chris. “She’s a global ambassador for Special Olympics; she speaks at a lot of community events with business leaders bringing awareness to Special Olympics. It’s just really inspiring for our family seeing what she does. Words can’t express how proud we are for her [as she] continues bringing awareness to the special needs community and showing what everyone can do versus what they can’t do.”
Grace will compete on July 3, 5, and 6. A full schedule of the swim events can be found on the Special Olympics USA Games website.
The games begin on July 1 on ESPN2 and on ABC.
Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.