With a smile on her face, Kittie Caston happily accepts whatever challenges are before her, and she embraces others for their abilities, not disabilities. Why? Being deaf taught Kittie to be non-judgmental and give people with disabilities the opportunity to shine.
Wanting others to have that chance at a normal life, Kittie’s 30 years of volunteer service with the Special Olympics in Georgia helps individuals with disabilities learn discipline, team camaraderie and self-confidence. Enlarging the athletic participation, number of coaches and variety of sports available to athletes are only a few of Kittie’s accomplishments. As Head of Delegation on the Special Olympic Games committee, Kittie helped bring athletes to state competitions held in Georgia. Her leadership and managerial skills smoothed the coordination of volunteers, athletes, coaches, and equipment and much more during the Games.
The Cobb County schools in Georgia do not participate in the Special Olympics, so volunteers, like Kittie, use the Parks and Recreation Department’s therapeutic program to offer sports training for special needs individuals. Over 200 people without disabilities compete together with disabled individuals in the Unified Sports program in events, such as basketball, ice-skating, bocce, and volleyball. Moreover, Kittie participates in these games with the athletes not just as a coach or mentor, but also as a teammate.
Special Olympics competitions give self-confidence, life skills and a network of friends. With her giving nature, Kittie helped the program grow from just 14 participants to 475 athletes through volunteer and participant recruitment. This enables all uniforms, equipment, and training and travel expenses to be free of charge. Living with a disability, Kittie wants for others to take pride in expressing themselves. Every year she aims to give back the joy and patience the athletes have taught her, a testament to her selflessness.