The Magic of the Strongest Place on Earth

We all know what comes to mind when someone says, “The Most Magical Place on Earth.”  The Magic Kingdom sets our childhood hearts free to experience a world where imagination has no limit.  However, on November 9 & 10, 2018, while people gasped, screamed, and felt butterflies in their stomachs aboard Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, or Thunder Mountain, other hearts raced right around the corner at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex.  It was here, that athletes overcame greater mountains, making this not only the Most Magical Place on Earth for themselves, but also The Strongest Place on Earth.

Three months ago, Jaden Janzen, Benjamin Greer, and Gregory Hawkins were totally unaware of the strength they had within themselves.  Then, one day, they were introduced to the Specially Fit Foundation.  Through consistent training with their coach, Marky Oliver, these three young men became mentally, physically, and socially stronger.  They learned body awareness, healthy habits, and barbell movements.  With a month of training tucked under their belts, Jaden, Ben, and Greg competed in their first Powerlifting competition, and the results were amazing!  All three of these young men qualified for the Special Olympics Powerlifting State Championship!

With less than a month to prepare, Jaden, Ben, and Greg stayed focused on their lifts and had a lot of fun during their training.  Coach Marky made sure that Jaden, Ben, and Greg used proper form and adhered to powerlifting commands as they trained, but he did not ever have to prompt these young men to smile.  That was natural.  Jaden, Ben, and Greg knew that they were becoming excellent athletes, and their unrestrained smiles were proof of their humble confidence.

Jaden, Ben, and Greg were prepared both mentally and physically when they arrived at Orlando for the state championship.  On competition day, all three young men suited up in their singlets, put on their gear, and listened attentively to Coach Marky’s pep talk.  As the announcer called each athlete, one by one, to the platform, hearts beat rapidly. Wild cheers filled the air before each lift.  As the athletes approached the competition floor, the loaded barbell became the mountain they had to overcome. They knew that the climb might be rough, unexpected obstacles might arise, inclement weather might materialize, but no matter what the outcome, the journey would heed rewards.

That’s exactly what happened.  The Specially Fit athletes conquered their mountains and received shiny medals to symbolize their climb.  Jaden Janzen placed first in his division; Benjamin Greer placed second in his division, and Gregory Hawkins placed first in his division.  Two golds and a silver, what a haul for the Specially Fit team!

However, as with all competitions, there are always more participants than there is gold, silver, and bronze medals.  Some competitors faced disappointments, some saddened hearts, some pits in stomachs, and some questioning minds.  Not all lifts went as planned and not everyone made it to the podium, but everyone overcame mountains. Strength shined bright at the Special Olympics Powerlifting State Championship this year.  Each smile had a story to tell.  The weekend ended with athletes stronger, braver, and more motivated than before. That’s the magic of community. That’s the magic of The Strongest Place on Earth.