PORTLAND - Five hard-working athletes in Oregon are being rewarded with a trip to the 2013 Special Olympics Winter World Games.
It’s an opportunity that only comes around once every four years.
Special Olympian Henry Meece will be one of nine snowboarders racing for team USA when the games begin on January 29th.
The host country of Korea is his birthplace. He was adopted at six months.
“It’s such an honor for him to be selected,” said his mother, Nancy Newell. “I can’t imagine having a different child, having anyone but Henry as my son.”
Henry started snowboarding in his early teens having acquired the balance from skateboarding.
She knew he had suffered trauma at birth, processing thoughts can be a challenge and there used to be issues with movement.
“He seems like a phenomenal athlete and I’m very impressed,” remarked ski instructor Joe Johnson.
“Well I can’t keep up with him anymore so I’m glad Special Olympics came along,” his Mom commented with a laugh.
On the slopes, Henry will compete in three events based on time and technique. His only disappointment is that there will be no jumping at the World Games. It’s Henry’s favorite part of snowboarding.
“I like getting air,” he said.
Henry has a brand new board donated for the competition and his $7,000 in expenses are covered by donations to Special Olympics Oregon.
He also knows a few Korean words.
“I can say thank you,” he said, which may come in handy if he should medal on the mountain.