Special Olympics Ohio: The Definition of Strong(er)

TAGS: giving back, push and pull, intellectual disability, sports for adults, sports for children, Summer Special Olympics, Ohio State University, special olympics, Alycia Israel, powerlifting meet, live learn pass on, EliteFTS equipment, deadlift, bench press

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It was a hot and humid June morning on Ohio State’s campus. Moving trucks, tents, road barriers, and human traffic were everywhere in sight. If you were a visitor driving through campus, you would know something big and important was taking place. This something was the Summer Special Olympics that Ohio State hosts every year at the end of June. Thousands of athletes within Ohio travel to Columbus to partake in various sports in hopes of qualifying for World and National competition. If you are unfamiliar with the Special Olympics, it is an event held to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. I have volunteered for this event for the last four years, but this year was a total game changer.

The Surprise

As I walked into the Drake Auditorium venue that morning, I headed straight to the main platform to check up on the equipment and make sure everything was ready to go for first lift. The judges (who also volunteer their time) were already on the stage admiring the equipment like it was displayed behind glass. This year, for the very first time, the athletes, coaches, and judges arrived to something new. This year elitefts donated competition equipment for the athletes to use, instead of the normal gym hand-me-downs they received in years past.


WATCH: 2016 Special Olympics Ohio Summer Games — Powerlifting


Elitefts provided a real competition bench with adjustable rack height, chrome plates, and a real power bar. The athletes may have never seen this type of equipment before let alone used it! I wore one out of 100 elitefts shirts I own that day, and when the judges saw me they immediately asked if I was a part of elitefts. As we got to chatting, one of the judges told us all a story of how he saw Dave Tate compete in the 90’s when he had a mullet. I definitely got a kick out of that one. When I told him that Dave planned on attending later that day his face lit up like Christmas morning. At that point I knew it was going to be a good day.

Strong(er) Inside and Out

Every year I volunteer it astounds me at how strong (physically and mentally) these athletes are. The excitement, positivity, and confidence fills the auditorium more than most powerlifting meets I have been at. A lot of the athletes even have fun nicknames they use when they compete, such as Johnny Guns, The Barbasol Man, Power Princess, and The Hulk. And everyone knows each other, much like a family or community. The crowd actually cheers and whistles when they get a lift, even if it is an opener. I feel like the powerlifting community could learn a lot from the Special Olympics in that regard. Some of the astounding stats from the day are below.

Best Male Bench Press: 300 Pounds

Best Male Deadlift: 500 Pounds

Best Female Bench Press: 155 Pounds

Best Female Deadlift: 325 Pounds

What is even more amazing is that all of these lifts were PR’s for the athletes. These athletes are the definition of Strong(er).

Throughout the day I was approached multiple times by athletes, coaches, and family members who expressed their gratitude and appreciation for the equipment donation. A few judges even asked if they were able to carry the bench out of the auditorium themselves, if they could keep it and take it to their gym! An athlete also approached me and asked “are we going to be able to use the silver plates to deadlift too?” with a huge grin on his face. The entire day just filled me with such joy and fulfillment, because we could really make such a difference with what we consider to be a small task.

Selfless Work is the Best Work

One of the main reasons why I am proud to be a part of elitefts is due to our strong value in passing on and growing the sport in a positive way. Unless you are reading this article, or saw the short video made about this event, you probably had no idea we donated equipment for the Special Olympics. That is because when Dave agreed to this partnership, he didn’t do so for the glory and PR. He did it because it was the right thing to do, and it gave back to the sport. We weren’t there with a huge camera crew and our logo blasted everywhere. That wasn’t the point. Selfless acts within a selfish sport is very hard to come by, but it so important to encompass as human beings and reflect the real message behind elitefts.

Even as human beings it is very easy to become self-focused and absorbed, especially in a sport like powerlifting. Where the spot light is on you, everything is about you. And it is even easier to let that mentality trickle into your everyday life, relationships, and attitudes. I’ve seen those close to me walk down that self-focused path and it is really a sad thing to witness. It can drain you of compassion, morality, or simply considering anyone other than yourself. Events like this bring us all back to reality and show us what really matters. Giving back, caring, and helping others is really the best way we can give back, care, and help ourselves internally. Giving back and being selfless is fuel for the healthy soul and mind. On behalf of everyone at elitefts, we hope this gives you inspiration to Live, Learn, and Pass On as well.

 Powerlifting Results 

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