Lee County Footballer Helps Special Olympians Win Gold
“Going for the Gold” has special meaning for Special Olympians and their partners. WINK News anchor Lisa Hutson spoke to the Florida Unified Football Team about their goals and scores.
Kevin Reynolds played football in Lee County for years. He’s now the president of the UCF club football team, and to fill his volunteer hours, he and a few classmates decided to team up with a few Special Olympians and offer some coaching tips.
What they had was an inspiring experience of winning gold with their new best friends.
“This is our US National Special Olympics gold medal,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds knows his way around a football pitch. “We figured if we were going to volunteer, we might as well do something we’re good at as well as something we enjoy.”
His passion for football made him the perfect teammate and coach of Cesar Aponte.
“We’re like brothers basically,” Aponte said. “We are not just talking about football. We also talk about our life, our college. Kevin has a new girlfriend.
What started as a small training aid became a family after 10 days of competition at the Special Olympics in Orlando.
“We realized pretty quickly, just like Silvia did, that we got along really well with them and maybe we were a little bit better at coaching them just because we have more experience,” Reynolds said. .
“At night I would get a text message on the phone that we were going downstairs for snacks, and they would send me a list of everyone who went there, and that was everyone. They all went together,” coach Silvia Haas said.
Haas said Saturday she didn’t even tell her team she was playing for the top prize.
“It’s me and Gary. We won a gold medal at the United States games,” Aponte said.
Aponte said the highlight of the trip was when Gary scored with an assist from Reynolds.
“In game two, I remember I passed the ball to him, and he shot and scored,” Reynolds said.
“Kevin knew it was a dream for me. And I did. When he came on the bench, I gave him a big hug and a kiss on the cheek, and thank you for making my dream come true Haas said.
“It was something extremely special, so I will always remember it, and it was definitely one of the proudest moments of my career,” Reynolds said.
A new goal for Reynolds is to get more varsity athletes to volunteer, because when it comes to brothers, the more the better on the court.
“Now they consider us friends. We consider them friends, and the idea of unified sports is something we are all passionate about,” Reynolds said.
In August, Reynolds and Aponte will travel to Minnesota to compete in the Unified All-Star Game.