“I always tell the kids, ‘OK, just try,” and they tell me they will try. I try to raise the spirits up of the people around me all the time.”
— Julianne Malley, 27, of Craig, about how she tries to inspire her fellow Special Olympians.
In 2004, Julianne Malley and her family moved from Arizona to Craig to be closer to other family members.
Malley, being new to the area, was looking for a way to meet new people.
She heard about the Special Olympics and decided to compete.
What started as something just for fun, she said, created lifelong hobbies and great friendships.
Malley, 27, was named the Special Olympics Colorado’s Female Athlete of the Month for March, an acknowledgement she never expected.
“(Tuesday) when I found out, I almost had a heart attack,” she said. “It took my breath way. I never figured I would be this lucky or be this good at any of the events to be named athlete of the month.”
Malley said she remembers when her friend and fellow athlete, Josh Dalton, told her about the Special Olympics and how he got to travel around the world competing.
And while Malley hasn’t been around the world yet, she said she enjoys being able to be a part of the worldwide event.
“I do long jump, walking events, softball throw and bowling,” she said. “Softball throw has to be my favorite because I like to see how far I can throw with my left arm compared to my right.”
Kady Moore, a volunteer and family manager for Special Olympics Colorado, said coaches and area directors nominated athletes who they felt deserved to be honored.
Then, a committee sat down and discussed each nominated athlete.
Malley, Moore said, was chosen because of her years competing and her qualities as a leader.
“Picking Julianne involved her number of years competing and how highly her coaches talked of her as a leader,” Moore said. “They said she sets an example for all the other athletes to follow and the other athletes look up to her. We feel she may not have been noticed in years past, so we wanted her to be recognized this year.”
Malley, who is a housekeeper at the Holiday Inn of Craig, said when she talks to her fellow athletes she tries to encourage them to never give up.
“I always tell the kids, ‘OK, just try,” and they tell me they will try,” she said. “I try to raise the spirits up of the people around me all the time.”
While competing has its advantages, like collecting blue ribbons, Malley said being a part of the Special Olympics is more about being around people.
“I like to talk, a lot, but some people get nervous talking to me,” she said. “My friends in the Special Olympics always talk to me and they are so funny and fun. I really enjoy talking to all the kids because they are so sweet and so smart.”
The events Malley competes in during the Special Olympics, like walking and bowling, have become activities she participates in on weekends.
And when she does go to the bowling alley on a Saturday, she does so with her friends and fellow athletes.
“We are a close group and we hang out outside competing,” she said. “I love it up here in (Craig). It is so perfect and there are so many nice people.”
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