Editor’s Note: Eric Baumann of Vienna, Illinois, was the third-place winner in Special Olympics Illinois’ Share Your Story Contest.
Special Olympics has been a huge part of 30-year-old Eric Baumann’s life for nearly 20 years. In that time, he has proven his athletic ability by participating in bocce, basketball, snowshoeing, athletics, bowling and softball, and earning more than 100 medals.
Eric’s athleticism is not the only trait that has surfaced through his participation in Special Olympics. He has become a bigger part of the community by involving himself in more than just sports. Eric is now not only an athlete, but a Global Messenger, a volunteer, a coach, has served on the Board of Directors and was nominated for the Special Olympics North America Athlete Leadership Council. Read Eric’s story in his own words.
As an active member of the organization, Eric says that Special Olympics has transformed his life by making him a better person and has helped him set new goals for himself and his future. Eric volunteers for Special Olympics locally as much as possible. He also volunteered at the athletics venue with his mother Kathy at the 2010 National Games in Nebraska and has worked with the Young Athletes Program.
Other than competing, Eric’s favorite part about Special Olympics is spreading the word of Special Olympics. Being a Global Messenger has made Eric a more social person and has brought him out of his shell, which is exactly what the movement is meant to do.
If you ask Eric what his favorite sport is, he says bocce. However, bocce is not even Eric’s winningest sport (snowshoeing), nor is it the sport he traveled all the way to Ireland to for the 2003 World Summer Games where he brought home a silver medal and a 7th place ribbon in athletics. But, bocce is the sport he is likes to compete in most.
In addition to competing as an athlete, Eric has become a certified coach in athletics and snowshoeing.
Eric participates in Special Olympics through START, Family Counseling Center and Choate Developmental Trainig Center, all in southern Illinois.
Eric is also very active outside of Special Olympics. He works a janitorial job at the Trail of Tears rest area in Anna through the START. He was also involved in the Youth with Disabilities Leadership Summit for the State of Illinois in 2001 and 2002. Eric attended Shawnee Community College in Ullin. He hopes to go back to school to earn his associate’s degree in general studies.
Eric credits Special Olympics for helping him express himself better, improving his self-image and even living on his own.
By Kelsey Lutz, Communications Intern