Robert Taylor rides his bike almost every day, for at least 20 miles. The 39-year old Special Olympics Mecklenburg County athlete is very familiar with the feeling of pedaling his way through the streets of Charlotte. But on one hot day in June of 2015, Taylor took a very different ride.
Taylor joined people across the nation in the Unified Relay Across America and carried the Flame of Hope on its journey to the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles.
“I had such a good time doing the Relay. I like the idea of supporting my fellow athletes heading to World Games, especially when I get to do it on my bike!” explained Taylor.
Helping his fellow athletes is a way of life for Taylor, whether or not his bike is involved. Since first participating in Special Olympics 13 years ago, Taylor has consistently sought out ways to give back to Special Olympics NC and its nearly 40,000 athletes.
For many years, Taylor has served as an Athlete Representative on the Games Management Team planning committee for the Special Olympics NC Western Basketball Tournament. He is always there to help staff, coaches, other volunteers and the athletes. It is a big responsibility and one that Taylor takes seriously.
“Robert works so hard when he’s volunteering at the Basketball Tournament. He’ll literally take on any job, anything that’s asked of him, everything from venue setup to lunch distribution to refilling water coolers. He’s such a valuable addition to the team of great volunteers,” said Greg Morrill, Special Olympics Mecklenburg County local coordinator.
Taylor competes in bowling and softball, but cycling is his favorite without a doubt. He feels at home on a bike, so much so that he returned to it with renewed energy after a life-threatening accident four years ago.
“I was hit by a car when I was crossing the street and suffered a broken back and skull. I could have let it sideline me forever, but I didn’t want that. I wanted to get back out on my bike and I did just as soon as the doctor said it was ok!” Taylor explained.
“Robert just embodies all the qualities you hope to see a Special Olympics athlete! He is dedicated and has a tremendous amount of perseverance. He is a great example of sportsmanship, always encouraging other athletes, even if he’s racing against them. He volunteers at Camp SOAR (our local summer camp for Special Olympics athletes), has ridden in multiple charity bike races for other causes and is just all around the friendliest guy you’ll ever meet, ” said Morrill.
Taylor credits Special Olympics with his drive to be a better person each day. But, much like his love for cycling, that drive is a pretty natural fit.
Congratulations Robert on being named the 2015 SONC July Athlete of the Month!
Favorite Vacation: St. Martin Island
Favorite Food: Steak
Favorite TV Show: Home Improvement Shows
Favorite Sports Team: Seattle Mariners