CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — There are 150 US athletes competing in the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria this month.
Two of them are preparing at the Richmond Ice Zone skating rink. 8News anchor Whitney Harris met the speed skaters from Chesterfield representing Team USA.
Seventeen-year-old Craig Licorish Jr. is a senior in high school, and he’s about to be an Olympic athlete.
“How do you like skating?” Whitney asked.
“It’s fun. I mean, it’s like awesome fun, you know what I mean?” Craig replied.
His mom, Lyndrea Munnerlyn, says when he’s on the ice, he has a style all his own.
“The main thing with him is speed, but because he does like to dance a little bit, once in a while, you’ll see him kind of zone out and do one of his little dance moves or something like that,” Lyndrea said. “He can be quite animated on the ice.”
Craig has autism and his mother says playing sports has given him confidence.
“It’s helped him a whole lot as far as just being able to communicate with others and the comradery with the other skaters and with the coaches,” Lyndrea said.
Christina Dryer is going for gold in speed skating, too. She also has autism and although she can’t tell us how much she enjoys skating, she certainly shows it.
“I’d bring her up here and as soon as she sees where we’re going, a big old smile comes on her face and she comes out here and just starts gliding around the thing,” Fred Dryer, Christina’s father said. “She’d go forever out here.”
Fred says staying active makes all the difference for her, too.
“A lot of special needs children don’t get involved in different things,” he said. “My wife runs marathons, I weight lift and so we decided that we’re not going to let that happen. We’re going to keep her involved and busy.”
Their coach, Stephanie Floyd, agrees that it’s an incredible opportunity.
“Well, it’s an honor,” Stephanie said.” It’s an honor to stand out, first among the state, and then among the nation and then to go to worlds. It changes these kids’ lives.”
“So I’m going there and prepare myself for this wonderful gaming event in my life,” Craig said.
Lyndrea, Craig’s mother, says she’s taken major financial hits recently and became unable to finance her trip to support her son at the games in Austria. She set up a GoFundMe account to help finance her trip. You can find the link to the GoFundMe account HERE.
You can also watch the Special Olympics World Winter Games’ opening ceremony LIVE Saturday, March 18 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on TV-8.
A rally was held Friday morning at Manchester High School to support the two athletes.
Rally held at Manchester High School for students heading to Austria for Special Olympics
Rally held at Manchester High School for students heading to Austria for Special Olympics x