Special Olympics Aurora athlete Carly Bryden is no stranger to the water. Not only is her favourite sport swimming as a member of the Aurora Special Ducks, but she has also been freezin’ for a reason for the past 4 years – and this year was no different! Carly, alongside her father John, brother Kyle and his girlfriend Olivia, took part in this year’s York Region Polar Plunge, raising $4,270 as Team Goldfish in support of Special Olympics Ontario!
Being a Special Olympics athlete means a lot more to Carly than just sport – “it is our social network and gives us a chance to compete and make friends with the other athletes and amazing volunteers and coaches. It teaches us many life skills like leadership, nutrition, and goal setting, all while having fun with our friends. It gives us opportunities to do things we otherwise may not be able to do like be on a team and compete.” Carly currently participates in swimming, rhythmic gymnastics and baseball, but her favourite memory as a Special Olympics athlete goes back to making her first ever basket in basketball – “when I started, I couldn’t get the ball up to the hoop. I kept practicing and trying to get stronger – it took me two years but one day, I got the ball up over the rim and it went in! All the coaches, players and parents cheered for me!”
Participating in the Polar Plunge has taught Carly a lot about herself: “I have learned to manage my time to be ready to participate, I have learned that I can do more things than I thought I could, and that lots of people like to support Special Olympics Ontario because it is a great program!” If you're on the fence about participating next year, Carly says “just do it – connect with all your family and friends and people in the community. It raises lots of money for Special Olympics Ontario and it’s fun (once you get out of the water!)”. Carly is already looking ahead to next year, going bigger, bolder and colder and hopes to raise $5,000 for the 2023 Polar Plunge!