Former U.S. Olympian Kelly Gunther nearly lost her foot ice skating when she was 6 years old. She recovered and eventually won multiple gold medals on the United States relay team, earning her the nickname “The Comeback Kid.”

Gunther bounced back from her injuries to speed skate at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

“I was told I would never be able to skate again. We had no idea what the road I had ahead of me was,” Gunther said. “Everything happened for a reason.”

Gunther co-hosted Special Olympics Texas’ Breakfast with Champions on June 2 at the Hurst Conference Center, 1601 Campus Drive. By Gunther’s side, Special Olympics athlete and co-host Mandy Morgan spoke to guests.

Morgan, 30, was born with high-functioning autism. In the past five years, she has participated in the Special Olympics in bocce, basketball, gymnastics, swimming and bowling.

One of Morgan’s goals is to inspire and lead other Special Olympics athletes to make a difference. Nearly 60,000 athletes reside in Texas, according to Special Olympics Texas’ 2021 impact report.

The Breakfast with Champions highlighted the excellence of the Special Olympics athletes, said Tim Martin, the president of Special Olympics Texas.

“This is one more awareness piece, but also a way for athletes to share a story of just incredible greatness that lies in every human being,” Martin said.

Martin played football when he was in high school. He was blessed with the ability of “running fast and knocking people down,” he said.

He was kicked off his high school team one day when he made fun of a special education class. His football coach told him he needed to become a better human being, he said. The coach then took him down the special needs hall and taught him about respecting others.

The lessons Martin learned in the coming months changed him for life.

The Special Olympics this year will be from June 5-12 in Orlando, Florida. Team Texas will participate in soccer, basketball, flag football and more.

Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him by email or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Cristian ArguetaSoto

Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. He can be reached at cristian.arguetasoto@fortworthreport.org or (817) 317-6991.