For Gig Harbor resident Andrew Fowler, track and field changed everything.
During the work week, you might see Fowler bagging groceries at the Gig Harbor Fred Meyer. On the weekends, he trains tirelessly in race walking — he competes in the 50-meter and 100-meter walk — and long jumping to refine his speed and agility. This year is his seventh time competing at the Special Olympics, and his first at the national level, with Comcast sponsoring him and other Team Washington athletes.
Fowler has a home field advantage this summer, along with the rest of Team Washington – the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games are coming to Seattle this weekend, with the opening ceremony kicking off at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
“I was 21 when I signed up for the (2012) Olympics, and then I got gold for the first time this year, in 2018,” Fowler said. “My parents told me to keep going, and one day you’ll make it to the World’s. So now I’m trying to make it to the World’s.”
Since 1968, the Special Olympics has provided a space for people of all ages with intellectual disabilities to train and compete year-round. Today, nearly 5 million athletes around the world are involved with Special Olympics.
Metro Parks Tacoma offers a variety of Special Olympics fitness and training programs to the community, from flag football, to bowling, to track and field. Fowler, along with many other residents of the South Sound, train with their teammates through these Metro Parks programs.
The 2019 Special Olympics World Games will be held in Abu Dhabi, and Fowler has his eye on the prize.
“I’m climbing all the way to the top,” Fowler said.