Grace Seiboldt does it all. From the soccer field to the swimming pool, the 20 year old has always had a passion for being active.
So it was a fitting surprise when her soccer team told Grace that she earned a spot on the Special Olympics Illinois team for the 2018 USA Games in Seattle.
“We’re just very excited to be a part of the Special Olympics and to be able to go to Seattle and see all the other athletes and events. I know it’ll be a big, special occasion for the whole family,” said Grace’s father Joel.
“With Grace’s Autism, keeping in all these athletics has been very good for her as well,” said Grace’s mother Nancy. “Her core friends are special needs, but they’re all athletes, every single one of them, and they cheer everybody on.”
It’s the support of friends and family that keeps Grace swimming for gold, placing at state every year since she started in fourth grade.
“I like to swim because my friends, my parents, come cheer me on,” said Grace.
Grace quickly came to love the sport, swimming for her Neuqua Valley and STEPS team in high school, and through Western DuPage Special Rec.
Getting this far was helped made possible with her coaches along the way, who see her motivation to keep on swimming.
“When you’re pushing her and you’re telling her to keep going even though she’s already exhausted, she still makes the choice to continue. And that’s all on her and her hard work. It’s something she really enjoys and wants to be successful at,” said Blake Cline, STEPS teacher and Special Olympics coach.
In July of next year, Grace will compete in the freestyle relay and breaststroke, a feat her brother is excited to see.
“Just the change that Grace has had over the last decade in her own self confidence and in the confidence of her peers has been an incredibly beautiful thing to see,” said Chris, Grace’s older brother. “Because when you have a sibling with a disability, a lot of the time they feel like they’re left out, they don’t always have the activities that more able-bodied kids have but when they come to Special Olympics everyone’s the same, everyone’s excited, everyone’s cheering each other on.”
Soon to make a splash and swim for a win at the Special Olympics 2018.
Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.