Special Olympics athlete and Global Messenger Zinyra Ross of Aurora introduced Gov. Pat Quinn at a Brookfield Zoo press conference recently where he announced a $1 million investment for improvements designed for adults and children with disabilities.
Zinyra is employed part-time at Brookfield Zoo, working the animal exhibits and children’s play zoo. She was proud to speak on behalf of Brookfield Zoo for people with disabilities.
Zinyra spoke about her life’s journey that included her speech and language disability and how a specialist told her mother than she would never talk. With excitement in her voice, Zinyra told the Brookfield audience “as you can see, I found my voice.”
She proudly spoke about being a Special Olympics athlete at Waubonsie Valley High School and becoming a Global Messenger. Zinyra spoke of being active in Best Buddies, becoming the director at WVHS and being a Best Buddies Illinois Ambassador.
Zinyra said it was fun introducing the governor, adding he was very nice. She wasn’t nervous, because she likes telling people about her life and dreams. “I’m just talking,” she said.
“The coolest thing was showing Gov. Quinn all my Special Olympics medals,” she said. “He wanted to see my speech and she how my mommy changes the spelling of words so I can read them. Then he signed my speech.”
Gov. Quinn said the improvements will include building a new facility that will advance animal welfare and house a unique group of animals used for programming for children and adults with developmental disabilities, underserved communities, and veterans and their families. The facility will also allow guests a unique opportunity to interact with the zoo’s ambassador animals.
“I’m very happy that people like me with different disabilities who love nature have a special place to learn. I hope I can work in the new building so I can help them to never give up on dreaming,” Zinyra said.