Jennifer Hartley

Duval County

My favorite memory took place on July 10, 2021. In the beginning of the year, I was tired of the pandemic. I wanted to find a way to help me lose weight and get more exercise at the same time.

I had heard about Chris Nikic and the Ironman he completed and was in awe! Then I heard that triathlon season was starting and they were looking for more athletes. I said to myself, what a great way to get exercise! I love to swim and ride my bike. I’m not that good at running, but I can try. So I joined the triathlon team and started training. I realized it was something I enjoyed. It got me out of the house and was good exercise. I had never even thought about doing a triathlon, but here I was training for one.

On July 10, 2021, I completed my first triathlon! I had gotten injured at work earlier in the summer, so I was having a lot of trouble with running. I ended up having to walk the whole way. I kept on telling myself I am not going to give up. No matter how hard it gets. I am going to cross that finish line — and I did!

This year, I have new goals I am working on. I am working on jogging more and doing my 5k portion in under an hour, something I have never done before. I know with grit, determination, and hard work that I can do it!

Thank you Special Olympics for bringing out the true athlete in me. July 10, 2021 — a day I will never forget!

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As we mark 50 years of making the world a more inclusive place, we want to hear your Special Olympics Florida story. Tell us your story by sharing a favorite memory or let us know what our programs have meant to you or the impact they’ve made in your life.  TOGETHER WE CELEBRATE!