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SEASPAR Special Olympics competitor honored by Westmont Park Board

Mar 22, 2018 09:42AM

From left, Westmont Park District Executive Director Bob Fleck, Westmont Special Olympics Illinois athlete William Porch, and SEASPAR Recreation Coordinator/Special Olympics Athletic Director Aaron Hirthe. Photo Credit: SEASPAR

Westmont, Ill. (March 20, 2018) – At its meeting on March 14, the Westmont Park Board honored resident William Porch, a Special Olympics Illinois competitor trained by the South East Association for Special Parks And Recreation (SEASPAR).

Porch is a 24-year-old Westmont resident with autism who has been training in Special Olympics sports with SEASPAR since he was a teenager.

Aaron Hirthe, SEASPAR Recreation Coordinator/Special Olympics Athletics Director, spoke at the meeting about Porch’s success and described him to the Park Board as “a very quiet and reserved athlete... he’s very smiley,” as Porch grinned in the audience.

Hirthe continued, “His character is one that is very friendly to everyone that’s around him, until he gets onto the field or court or pool or wherever he’s competing. Then he becomes one of the most tenacious athletes I’ve ever had the pleasure of coaching… Every sport he’s tried, he’s been able to find success and sustain success.”

Porch has trained in the Special Olympics Illinois winter sports of Snowshoeing, Cross Country Skiing, and Alpine Skiing, and the summer sports of Swimming and Bocce.

At his most recent state competition in February – the Special Olympics Illinois Winter Games in Galena – Porch earned a gold medal in the sport of Snowshoeing.

In order to qualify for state competitions, athletes must earn gold medals at regional competitions, and 2018 was Porch’s ninth year qualifying for the Winter Games. The first eight years, he qualified in the sport of Cross Country Skiing, which was discontinued as a Special Olympics Illinois sport this year. Including his 2018 Snowshoeing win, Porch has earned gold medals at the Winter Games every year since 2013. He expanded his training to include the sport of Alpine Skiing this year as well.

Porch’s athleticism is not limited to winter sports, and at the Special Olympics Illinois Swimming Regional Qualifier on March 8, he earned a gold medal in his team relay event to qualify for the Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games state competition in Bloomington-Normal in June. This is Porch’s ninth year qualifying for the state competition in Swimming.

Porch has also qualified for the Summer Games in the sport of Bocce for the last six years, but athletes can only choose one sport for the competition, so he has opted to swim with his relay teammates each year.

Hirthe concluded his introduction of Porch by telling the Board, “William embodies everything that Special Olympics envisioned when they set up 50 years ago. He represents himself, his family, and Westmont to the fullest.”

“We’re very proud of you,” Westmont Park District Executive Director Bob Fleck told Porch as he presented him with a plaque commending his outstanding achievement and excellent sportsmanship in Special Olympics. “It’s really our partnership with SEASPAR that is on display here – extreme value and great benefits for so many – and William is a perfect example of that.”

SEASPAR trains athletes for Special Olympics competitions in Alpine Skiing, Athletics (track and field), Basketball, Bocce, Bowling, Flag Football, Floor Hockey, Golf, Gymnastics, Powerlifting, Soccer, Softball, Snowshoeing, Swimming, Tennis, and Volleyball. SEASPAR’s athletes compete in Special Olympics events throughout the year.

For more information about SEASPAR’s Special Olympics program or other recreational programs and services for individuals with disabilities, visit SEASPAR.org or call 630-960-7600.

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