April 08, 2014 | Updated: January 29, 2019

By Nick Garcia

High School student Emily Slagle wrote about her experience with Special Olympics Texas for her college application.

Below is her essay.

As a fourth grader, I never imagined the impact that being involved with the Special Olympics would have on my life. In 2006, I became a Unified Partner, which allowed me to coach and play with these Olympians in basketball, track, swimming, volleyball, and soccer. There was a beauty in the Special Olympics games and in the connection with the athletes that challenged and inspired me to grow more deeply as a person.  The patience, positivity, and clarity of instruction required of a good Unified Partner has undoubtedly strengthened my ability to be a more complete leader.

After initial selection to the Special Olympics Advisory Committee in 2009, I found myself surrounded by like-minded people who strongly desired to be on the front lines of facilitating greater support for the special needs community. Following our initial conference, I specifically focused on changing the language used to refer to those with disabilities in my own community. I also encouraged my basketball team to volunteer with the Special Olympics.  Our basketball program now volunteers at a special needs school and has nearly diminished the use of derogatory terms that reference those with disabilities in our immediate surroundings.

Working with the Special Olympics will always be an important part of my life, regardless of where my path may lead. It has shaped me into the person and leader I am today, has sparked an unwavering desire to remain a servant leader, and will always push me to inspire others to do the same.

Emily Slagle

We're so thankful for the many years that Emily has volunteered with Special Olympics Texas and wish her all the luck in the world during her college career.

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