Meet the SOWA World Winter Games Athletes

Jeremy BeckhamJeremy Beckham- Snowboarder

Jeremy Beckham, 20, is a Special Olympics Washington athlete who is competing at the 2017 World Winter Games in snowboarding. Beckham has been a Special Olympics athlete for 10 years, also competing in basketball, golf and swimming. This will be his first World Games experience. “I’m looking forward to meeting new people, but also to try and get the gold medal,” Beckham said. “I want to just go out and have fun. It’s going to be an amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “It’s a really big honor. I can’t believe I’m going!” In his free time, Beckham likes to listen to music and attend car shows. He also plays the bagpipes. “My mom’s side of the family is Scottish and she likes to listen to that kind of music, so I just fell in love with it,” he said. Beckham works two jobs, one of which is a dishwasher at a food processing plant. Through Special Olympics, he has made friends and made family and friends proud. “I’m most proud of making family and friends proud of me,” he said.

stefanie sarasonStefanie Sarason- Cross Country Skieer

Stefanie Sarason is a member of Special Olympics USA. She is from Bainbridge Island, Washington and will be competing in Cross Country Skiing at the World Games in Austria. She has been with Special Olympics for 29 years and is one of four athletes representing Washington. She is an avid reader and a food bank and political volunteer. She currently works at McDonald’s. Sarason is proud of all the medals she has won, “I feel like I have surpassed my expectations.” “I am proud to represent my team and do the best of my ability at World Games,” said Sarason.

Ryan FieldingRyan Fielding- Alpine Skier

Athlete Ryan Fielding of Camas, Wash., will be hitting the slopes for the Winter World Games as he competes in Alpine Skiing as a member of Special Olympics USA in March in Austria. Having been an active member of the Special Olympics organization for 16 years, he spends his free time helping friends, family and neighbors. He also serves as assistant coach for a youth soccer team. When not competing in his sport, Fielding can be found participating in the 4H Livestock and Horse program, where he has competed at the state level with sheep and equestrian driving. He was the intermediate pleasure driving champion at states and market sheep champion in Skamania County.

Virginia WadeVirginia Wade- Alpine Skier

Virginia Wade is a 16-year-old freshman from Washington. She has been involved with Special Olympics since she was seven years old. She got involved through gymnastics because she originally wanted to compete as a gymnast. According to her mom it was how she learned to walk and climb. However, there was not a program for that in Washington so she trained, to be a skier under a coach from Oregon who her mom found. Wade is excited for the 2017 World Games because she loves to ski and it is a once in a lifetime opportunity for her. Beyond the competition, she is looking forward to the post-games hot chocolate that she gets after a long day on the slopes. She is excited about being in Austria because she is a big fan of “The Sound of Music.” She is very social and cannot wait to meet her team and the other athletes. She loves to write during her free time and is currently working on a musical about when her family hiked the Appalachian Trail. Wade is most proud of being a student in a regular high school, skiing last year with her sister as her coach, and her writing. Participating in Special Olympics has given her stamina, taught her discipline and to work hard even when you are tired. She feels that these are things that you learn through athletics that most kids with special needs don’t normally get. Her mom said that Special Olympics “has given her the potential for a lifetime of friendships and activities.”