Each Wednesday morning for the past six months, Special Olympics Watauga County athlete Shannon Quinlan has proudly donned her freshly washed, red Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Challenge T-shirt. Wednesday is the busiest day of the week for this 22 year-old who has been participating in the Special Olympics exercise and nutrition program, funded by NC GlaxoSmithKline Ribbon of Hope grant.
“She’s a sport,” says Shannon’s mother Mary Jo Quinlan. “We walk four laps together at the mall in the morning then she goes to work, a couple hours later she heads to Zumba class. Shannon then heads back to work then has track practice after lunch, more work then she heads to bowling practice. Finally I see her at yoga in the evenings.”
It’s a busy day but her favorite of the week! Of the nearly 60 Special Olympics Watauga County athletes participating in the Healthy Athletes Challenge, Shannon is the one who has made it to the greatest number of classes including (Zumba and yoga). Moving swiftly isn’t the easiest thing to do for this ever-smiling young lady but she gives 100% at everything she does.
“Shannon has stiff extremities and is flat-footed,” said her mom. “This exercise program has been just wonderful for Shannon. She gets so excited for the classes and she has so much “want to”. It been so amazing to see that slowly she is getting more flexible and gaining strength. The instructors are fantastic and have made it fun.”
Shannon, a huge music fan, is also famous for her “Shannon Shuffle” in Zumba class. Shannon loves her “routine” and her family believes weekly exercise is definitely now part of it!
“Overall Shannon’s energy is up, her weight has decreased some and she is very aware of portion control now too,” reflected her mom. “I can’t say enough about how wonderful this whole Challenge has been. And I’ve loved how I can join in along with the athletes. It’s good for them to know exercise can be a family, fun time together. ”
The Healthy Athletes Challenge in Watauga County will officially run through early June but the hope is that the participating athletes will continue with their weekly exercise classes for long after. No doubt that Wednesday will continue to be a busy “moving day” for Shannon Quinlan!