While Rebekah Tucker celebrated her 18th birthday at the beginning of April, she took a moment to reflect on her five years as a Special Olympics Alleghany County athlete. Being homeschooled her whole life, Special Olympics helped Tucker make many new friends that have helped her come out of her shell. Tucker has great memories of playing her favorite sports, basketball bowling and athletics, and taking trips with her team and coaches. But a lasting impact that she didn’t see coming all started with a pair of pants.
As Tucker’s mother Linda was shopping at a local store, she spotted a pair of seersucker pants that she thought would be perfect for her daughter. But when Linda brought home the new pair of pants for Tucker, they were both disappointed to find that they did not fit. The seersucker pants were put into a back closet and soon forgotten.
Tucker continued with her usual routine of being homeschooled during the day and participating in Special Olympics, as she had done since she was 13 years old. This continued until Tucker and Linda heard about a new opportunity: the Alleghany County MedFest made possible by a grant from the GlaxoSmithKline Foundation.
After taking part in the MedFest, Tucker’s results made her and her mother realize that changes needed to made. They decided to get more serious about their eating and exercise habits.
“She got a pedometer from the screening and started putting more activity into her day,” said Tucker’s mother, Linda.
Tucker began attending exercise classes held at the Alleghany Wellness Center as a part of an 8-week course that Special Olympics Alleghany County provides in their sports rotation. Tucker surprised her family after becoming genuinely excited by the classes she was attending.
She even learned how to exercise outside of the Special Olympics sports in which she participated. However, Tucker was not only more interested in exercising, she wanted to learn how to live a healthier lifestyle by taking nutrition classes.
The effect of the nutrition and exercise classes soon began to show. During basketball practice, Tucker could now play through a whole game without needing to rest and could run up and down the court. She was thrilled that she was able to play one of her favorite sports for even longer.
Now nothing is standing in Tucker’s way as she pushes herself to try her hardest at every sport and exercise that she does. The change in Tucker’s health has truly impacted her life, but Linda believes the true transformation started five years ago when she began participating in Special Olympics.
“Special Olympics has broadened her horizons in so many ways,” said Linda. “Meeting fellow athletes and new friends has meant the most to her, but seeing how excited she gets about the exercise classes has been amazing.”
Now, Tucker can’t wait for the next rotation of exercise classes! While she takes part in other sports the rest of the year, Tucker plans on continuing what she has learned from those classes.
Almost a year later, Tucker found something while doing some spring cleaning that made all of the exercise and nutrition classes even more worthwhile: her seersucker pants. Only this time, when she tried on the pants, they fit perfectly!
“It makes Rebekah feel good to fit into the pants and it makes her feel better,” stated Linda. “She wears them out pretty often now.”
Tucker may be sticking to her new healthy habits, but she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to celebrate turning 18 with a delicious cake. But she wore her seersucker pants with pride as she blew out the candles and made a wish for the year to come.
Congratulations on being named SONC’s 2017 April Athlete of the Month, Rebekah!