GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Michigan Special Olympian got the opportunity – and the surprise – of a lifetime on Friday.
Tyler Lawton, 27, was named to the Special Olympics Michigan Team as a track and field athlete. Next summer, he’ll travel to Orlando, Florida to represent Michigan in the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games.
“I was like, yes! It shocked me the most,” said Lawton, “and it made me almost cry because I’ve worked so hard to get where I’m at.”
When Lawton was just three years old, he suffered a traumatic brain injury.
“I was told I could not move, I could not run, I had to relearn everything all over again,” he said.
His journey to the USA Games has been almost two decades in the making. When Lawton was just ten, a teacher got him involved in Special Olympics Michigan and he’s been competing and coaching ever since. In 2019, one of the shot-putters he coached qualified for the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi.
Now, Lawton will be the one competing in front of a national stage. He’s shot-putting, running the 100-meter dash, and participating in long-jump.
“It gives us an opportunity to showcase our talents not for Michigan, but for the United States, to show hey, we just want to be like you guys,” he said.
It’s something he’s dreamed of ever since he was old enough to compete.
“I have been trying to go to USA Games for a long time,” said Lawton. “It was always my dream to actually be able to go there and compete.”
Lawton is a leader off the field as well. He’s currently acting president of SOMI’s Athlete Leadership Council.
SOMI will be announcing additional athletes to the national team in the coming weeks.
For more information on SOMI, click here.