Siblings Experience Summer Games for First Time

Diana and Daniel (Danny) Barraza of Chicago participated in their first Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games this year. The sweltering heat did not stop the siblings from bringing their excitement and energy to the Games. The siblings competed with Robert Lindblom Math and Science Academy High School. Diana, 15, attends Lindblom, while Danny, 11, attends Christopher Elementary School in Chicago.

Danny Barazza celebrates his gold medal

“The siblings had very competitive races at Spring Games, where the qualified for state,” said one of the siblings’ coaches, Ray Baker. Each earned a gold medal at the Special Olympics Illinois Chicago/Area 3 Spring Games in May. With the amazing support of family and friends, the siblings seem to thrive off of competition and an exciting atmosphere.

“Diana’s personality has shined throughout the year to bring out her competitive side, while Daniel’s energy and excitement has motivated him to be a great athlete,” said the siblings’ coach, Jessica Wilkinson, a special education teacher at Lindblom.

The siblings prepare for Special Olympics both in and outside of school. Diana practices at her high school, while Danny practices at the elementary school. Their parents support their children to train outside of school as well.

At Summer Games this year, Diana competed in the 25-meter non-motorized wheelchair race earning a participation ribbon and competed in the softball throw earning a bronze medal. Danny competed in the 50-meter non-motorized wheelchair race earning gold medal. “Diana and Daniel are both very competitive and always bring a lot of energy,” said Wilkinson. Wilkinson, along with the Barraza parents, accompanied the siblings to Summer Games this year.

The games were a huge success for both athletes. They both had fun as they were surrounded by friends and family.

By Megan Jensen, Communications Intern