Teen heads for Special Olympics

June 09, 1995|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,Contributing Writer

For one week next month, Adam Dunn will have a spot in the international arena. The South Carroll High senior will compete in the equestrian events at the 1995 International Special Olympics.

From July 1-9, Adam and his family will travel from their home in Winfield to New Haven, Conn., for the competition.

"To compete in the International Olympics, he had to have won a gold medal at the Maryland State Special Olympics last year," said Fran Dunn, Adam's mother. "The gold medal winners were put in a lottery and four names drawn to go to Connecticut -- only four equestrians from Maryland were picked and two are from Carroll County."

L Amy Dietrich of Sykesville also will compete in Connecticut.

Sports have always played a major role in the 19-year-old varsity letter man's life. He has been manager for three years of the South Carroll varsity lacrosse and football teams, attending practices and traveling to games with the players and coaches.

He has earned both his academic and athletic letters. He enjoys horseback riding, basketball, track and field, cross country skiing, soccer and bowling.

"In all honesty, he's not a jock -- he does it for the fun," Mrs. Dunn said. "He goes to meet everyone, shake hands, have fun, and he does."

Adam was born with a rare genetic developmental disorder -- multiple lentigo syndrome, so rare that many doctors are not familiar with it, Mrs. Dunn said.

His major problems are a language disability and speech and hearing problems.

"He's very capable and functions very high socially," Mrs. Dunn said. "He's very well behaved, very independent -- he comes home from school and takes care of himself."

Sports keep him especially busy. He competes regularly at the county and state level in the Special Olympics and has earned his share of medals.

This year's awards include a gold medal in cross country skiing in February and a second-place finish for the basketball team in April in local competitions.

But the sport of the moment is horseback riding, which he has participated in through the 4-H therapeutic riding program since he was 7 years old.

"He's been learning and progressing right along, and we're excited about him going to the Internationals," said Bob Shirley, 4-H Extension Service agent. "When he first started he had several aides, but now he's at the point where he does a great deal of riding by himself."

Mr. Shirley said Adam would compete with other equestrians from 47 countries in the Internationals. Adam's events include an equitation class, where he will be judged on form and control, and a trails class, where he must control the horse over a series of obstacles.

Adam said he is excited about going to the International Special Olympics. He likes riding Sofia, the 4-H horse he rides. Sofia treats him well, Adam said.

But in Connecticut, he will have a different horse, a local animal donated by the residents there.

"They'll have a chance to ride the horse before the competition," Mr. Shirley said.

The trip to Connecticut is all-expense paid for Adam, though his parents have to pay to accompany him, Mrs. Dunn said.

"The Maryland State Olympics pays for his trip, and they even bought the kids whole new riding outfits," she said.

Also traveling to the International Special Olympics is Adam's riding instructor, Mary Shunk, who will be one of two coaches for the Maryland equestrian team.

"Adam works well with her," Mrs. Dunn said. "They've had two over-night training sessions and Mary goes with them -- they stay at Towson State University for that."

The 26-member Maryland Special Olympics team will be given a big send-off on the Pride of Baltimore at the Inner Harbor this month, Mrs. Dunn said.

"I'm just thrilled he got to go," she said. "It's such a nice opportunity."

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