This time around, I interviewed Kasey Smith, a good friend of mine who also participates in Special Olympics!
1. What was your childhood like? My childhood was sheltered. Living in a small town, of course everybody’s life is sheltered in some form or another. I was a premature baby. I had fever seizures, brain bleeder, and a deflated right lung. I started going to school in my little not long after we moved in March of 1990. By the grace of God and with the support of many people, I graduated in 2007 after nearly 20 years.
2. When were you diagnosed as autistic? I was diagnosed as autistic in my 6th grade year in 2001. This just happened to fall not long before September 11, and I honestly believe that if it had waited, it would have been a disaster for me.
3. How did you become a Christian? Let’s backtrack 4 years to April of 1998. It was a small town Sunday…it was a lazy laid-back slow Sunday. Our family got ready to go to Church that Sunday morning, and I personally had no idea that what I was going to do that day would change my life. We went to church and I don’t exactly remember what our pastor was talking about that day, but when it came time for the response, I walked forward with my older brother. (Funny side note: This was just about a year after our original Church building burned to the ground, we had just moved into our new building, which wasn’t completed yet. So we ended up being baptized in another church. We were bigger than the baptism tank!) Our family was excited. That was 20 years ago! God has blessed me with so much it’s not even funny.
4. What is your favorite Bible passage? My favorite passage is Psalm 139 because in it, the Psalmist clearly says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made by God and that we should rejoice in that fact.
5. Who is your favorite Biblical character besides Jesus? It would have to be Paul because of what he had to go through–all of the persecution and the problems that he had to go through but he persevered and was very influential in the Bible.
6. How long have you been competing in Special Olympics and what events do you participate in? I have been involved in Special Olympics for 14 years. I had split time between teams. When I started in 2004, I only did basketball and track As the years went on, my event list grew to include bocce and soccer and almost volleyball. I even included golf, which led to my two state titles here, not in my home state of Texas.
7. What are the differences between Special Olympics and regular Olympics? The major differences between Special Olympics and the regular Olympics is about as different as night and day. For starters, the Olympics offer sports that would be difficult for us with intellectual differences and physical disabilities to participate in. The scheduling of international competitions is also different. There is an international competition scheduled every two years rotating between Summer and Winter games (this next summer in the Persian Gulf is the next Summer Games). Here in the United States, competition happens every 3 years on a major scale.
8. What evidence can you give for God’s existence? I can give numerous references to God’s existence, but I will use my life as one. I could have died premature, and in fact there was a third brother that was born but didn’t survive. But my older brother and I were born premature and survived. I don’t know of any better references to God’s existence than that!
9. What is your denomination? I am proudly and unashamedly Southern Baptist. As I sit here, we just wrapped up our national meeting in Dallas, and North Carolina pastor JD Greear was elected to replace outgoing president Steve Gaines as Southern Baptist Convention president.
10. Do you see yourself as disabled? I do see myself as disabled to an extant. As I mentioned earlier, my favorite Bible verse is Psalm 139. In fact, I have a t-shirt that I wear on occasion that is supporting Down Syndrome awareness that says “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps 139:14) But in fact I don’t see myself disabled. I see myself as enabled. I say that “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13)