“Albert Pujols Special Athlete Of The Year”

Michelle Conley has been doing a variety of Special Olympics sports since she was 8 years old. If asked to name a favorite sport, it would be a hard decision for her. She recently said she was honored to be part of the MO MAGIC Team and to represent Missouri at the National Special Olympics Games in Lincoln, Nebraska, in aquatics. Her swimming event is the butterfly, but she also worked hard at being comfortable in the 200 individual medley this past year. Her results showed her hard work as she received a gold, silver and bronze medal while at the National Games. Michelle will tell you that she enjoyed getting to know athletes and coaches from throughout the state of Missouri.

Michelle has gone to State Special Olympic games in the area of gymnastic, aquatics, softball and basketball, as well as the Invitational State Equestrian games in 2008. She also enjoys being part of team sports as well as individual sports. Michelle really enjoys the fact that she is the only girl on her softball and basketball teams.

While at Webster Groves High School (she graduated last year), she and her class participated in Special Olympic bowling, bocce and track and field events with the Special School District. Michelle is currently a student in the Special School District of St. Louis County in the Community Based Transition Service Program. Her program is located at Friendship Village Retirement Center. When not in school or practicing sports, Michelle spends time volunteering at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic, as well as pet-sitting for friends.

Michelle is a Level 3 gymnast and participates in the Special Olympics State Meet annually. She also has brought home many gold medals for all of her gymnastic events. In 2007, Michelle joined a Special Olympics softball team, a basketball team and an aquatic team. Her teams have gone to the state meets each year and her teams have brought home numerous gold and silver medals. She also participated in the first State Equestrian Special Olympics Invitational in 2008 where she was presented with the “All Around Athlete.” Her love of Special Olympics has continued to grow and she is often involved in practicing sports throughout the year.

Michelle spent every weekend for an entire year practicing for the July 2010 Special Olympics National Games when she was part of the aquatic team, bringing home several medals.

The Special Olympic Oath states, “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” Michelle proved what this oath meant while in Lincoln – her last event as she dove into the pool to compete in the 100 butterfly. She broke her toe, but continued to swim until the race was completed. Special Olympics has taught Michelle how to be part of a team, how to set goals and work towards them, has helped her grow in her independence and has given her friendships through her teammates and coaches.

The Special Olympics Mission: To provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with mental disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.