Ellie O’Donnell is ready to compete at State Special Olympics in track.
Ellie O’Donnell is hoping to bring home a medal from the Special Olympics Ohio State Summer Games.
But her ultimate goal while she’s competing in the 100 meter race is simple.
“I want to run as fast as I can,” she said.
Ellie, 15, will be competing at the state meet in Columbus for the first time.
She’s been a longtime member of the Licking County Special Olympics team, also participating in cheerleading, basketball and the softball throw.
But that’s just one aspect of her busy schedule.
“She thoroughly enjoys it,” said her mother Jill O’Donnell. “She’s the biggest social butterfly we know.”
Ellie, who will start eighth grade at Liberty Middle School in the fall, is currently participating in Camp All For One day camp at the Licking County Family YMCA.
She loves swimming, music, crafts and spending time with family, especially going boating or taking a family vacation.
Ellie has been supported by the Licking County Board of Developmental Disabilities (LCBDD) since she was diagnosed with Down syndrome, shortly after birth.
“They have been a heck of an asset and a real road map for us with all the contacts they’ve helped us make and the assistance they have to offer,” said Ellie’s father, Jeff O’Donnell.
Ellie received physical and occupational therapy through LCBDD as a baby and began attending preschool at the E.S. Weiant Center when she was 2, which prepared her to attend Legend Elementary and now Liberty.
The board was able to connect her family with support groups, both in Licking County and Columbus, and additional resources, like Camp All For One.
Ellie has been working with her service coordinator, and Employment Support Specialist Sam Wolf, to prepare for high school and beyond.
She is a die-hard Ohio State University fan and would like to attend community college and become a hair stylist or a make-up artist.
Her parents and coaches think she would enjoy a job where she gets to interact with people.
“Ellie’s humor and enthusiasm are what you notice most about her,” said Carrie Wysocki, coordinator for Licking County Special Olympics. “She is the most fun and just hilarious.”
Jill and Jeff had taken an active role volunteering and coaching this season and Ellie’s times have significantly improved. She always has a positive attitude. Even when its hot during track practice, she is full of energy, Carrie said.
She was selected to participate in the torch run at the recent Area 6 Special Olympics Spring Games at Watkins Memorial High School because of her positive attitude.
She will also represent the team on the Special Olympics float at the upcoming Kiwanis Club of Granville’s Fourth of July parade.
“Her energy and enthusiasm and willingness to come out every week, made her name really rise to the top of the list,” Carrie said.
Although Ellie was nervous before she began running, as soon as she picked up the torch, she was unforgettable, Carrie said.
“She was filled with joy while she was doing it. It was a pretty glorious moment,” she said. “She did a great job.”
Photo credit: Jeff O’Donnell