Special Olympics Michigan athlete featured on SpartanNash water bottles

Posted at 4:47 PM, May 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-10 16:48:23-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.--A Special Olympics athlete can now be seen on 50,000 cases of SpartanNash water.  The accomplishment is just the latest in a number of accolades for the athlete.

Kayla Cornell's image can be seen on spring water bottles in nearly 500 Michigan stores.

Cornell isn't used to signing autographs. But, since her face showed up on SpartanNash water bottles, it’s become a common occurrence.

"It's an amazing feeling," Cornell said. "I was at the Sparta one and they saw me in the newspaper and they brought their five year old to introduce them to me and I thought that was kind of cool."

Cornell has high-functioning autism, but doesn't let it limit her. The 29-year-old competes in 11 different sports and was named the 2017 SpartanNash Healthy Athlete of the year last June. Since then, her popularity has grown.

"It was actually in this store that I walked into and I was on the phone with somebody and I said, 'Woah there's my face'" says Cornell.

Her face can now be seen on thousands of water bottles all over West Michigan.

"This is a huge accomplishment," says Nicholas Olle, Special Olympics Michigan Area Director. "Having her on these water bottles is a testament to the hard work that she's done and our area couldn't be more proud of her."

Her fans are proud, too.

"The fact that she's out here in the public doing something like this, not having to have a lot of support to do that, that's quite the accomplishment," says Jim Trewhella, a fan and friend of Cornell's family.

She is showing that hard work can bring many different rewards.

"I really worked hard to get where I was at so when I got the award last year, I was like 'Woah, that's cool," says Cornell.

Cornell is scheduled for multiple public autograph signings aT SpartanNash owned stores in West Michigan. You can find times and location of her signings by clicking here.