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Special Olympics bronze medalist Kevin Callaghan shares story, confronts labels

first_imgKevin Callaghan, a bronze medalist in the 5,000-meter race at the 2011 Special Olympics, spoke at Saint Mary’s on Wednesday evening regarding his experiences as an athlete. The event, sponsored by Multicultural Services, served as part of the College’s Disability Awareness Week.Saint Mary’s junior Maryselva Albarran Hernandez commented on the significance of the event, saying although there have been many projects promoting diversity and inclusion on campus, there were very few events surrounding disabilities.“We noticed that there were a lot of projects and events happening that were focused on diversity and inclusion in religion, race, ethnicity and LQBTQ issues, but there was nothing for increasing awareness on disabilities,” she said. “This is a big concern because we do have students with disabilities on our campus and it’s important for them to feel included.” Tags: 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games, Disability Awareness Week, Kevin Callaghan, Special Olympics Natalie Weber | The Observer Special Olympian and bronze medalist Kevin Callaghan presents at Saint Mary’s on Wednesday in Vander Vennet Theatre. The event was a part of Saint Mary’s inaugural Diversity Awareness Week.Albarran Hernandez said Callaghan is committed to speaking up and helping others who suffer from intellectual disabilities, similar to those he and his brother face.“He wants to be a role model for those who may not have a voice and wants to be their voice,” she said. “He wants to be able to provide the tools for people to voice their concerns and he wants to motivate others to speak up and I love that about him.”Callaghan was diagnosed with a mild intellectual disability, which he said is nothing more than a label. He said that a disability doesn’t always mean disabled. Every person is gifted in their own way, he said, and trying to live life to its fullest with the talents that they have.“I do things like anyone else, just at a slower pace,” he said. “I can drive a car; I live in my own apartment; I am self-sufficient. It wasn’t easy though, I had to work a lot harder to achieve my goals.”Callaghan said he always enjoyed running and competing. Sports have helped him in many ways, he said, by allowing him to make connections, find his passion and make new friends. One of the biggest highlights of running was the opportunity to compete against other athletes who were just like him.“When I was 10 years old, my parents offered me to be a medical guinea pig and the doctors injected my legs with Botox,” he said. “It worked. The medicine caused my muscles to relax and I was able to walk normally. That may sound like a little thing, but when you have special needs, it’s really important to be as normal as you can be. I decided to try out for my high school’s cross-country team, and I had a great coach who didn’t care about what I couldn’t do — he only cared about what I could do. By the time I was a senior, I was the fastest guy on the team and was voted MVP by the end of the season.”Seven years ago, Callaghan, who wore his Olympic medal around his neck, competed in the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece.“I ran on the same track as Usain Bolt, competed against some of the best Special Olympic athletes in the world and won a bronze medal,” he said.Kevin’s father Jim Callaghan said although it was difficult coming to terms with two of his kids suffering from intellectual disabilities, his greatest goal has always been to make sure his kids were happy. Both of Kevin’s parents became actively involved in the Special Olympics as coaches.“There was an adult special Olympics group, but they didn’t have a kids division,” Jim said. “So, we called the state and said we wanna start a Logan Center kids team. The first year it was only Kevin, the next year it was like, eight kids, and now the program has been running for 20 something years.”Jim said his son is a role model for a number of people and is referred to as ‘the mayor’ by some of his friends because he knows everyone in his town.“It’s not just about me but there are so many stories of people with disabilities,” Kevin said. “I love people and I also have many friends with autism, so I always try to think about how things would affect me if I was in another person’s shoes. If it was up to me, I wish there was a universal healthcare for everybody in the world.”last_img read more

COLUMN: Timing of Helton hire raises questions

first_imgUSC’s newest football coach, Clay Helton, may turn out to be a masterful hire. He loves physical football, dedicates coaching time to both sides of the ball, and has that “it” factor with his inspirational speeches. He seems to be a no frills type of coach who just loves football, a model that has worked extremely well for coaches like Nick Saban and Urban Meyer. A manic dedication to the job appears to be essential in the hunt for championships.This is not to say Helton is anywhere near the caliber of coach that Saban and Meyer are, not yet anyway. This alone makes the timing of Helton’s hire questionable.Yes, Helton has shown great leadership skills in times of crisis and for the most part his power running based offensive scheme has paid dividends, but he hasn’t truly wowed anyone with his coaching. After all, the Trojans went 5-2 to end the regular season under Helton. He has made mistakes in terms of clock management, and his penchant for bubble screens continues the Kiffin and Sarkisian lineage. The team is disoriented on offensive plays occasionally, and they play relatively undisciplined.None of these factors should have disqualified Helton from the job, he just should not have been a shoo-in candidate before the season ended. A lot of these mistakes can probably be attributed to his adjustment to head coaching duties midseason, as well as the youth of the team. There is no doubt that coaches can evolve and get better, especially with an offseason to develop and analyze their skills. With Helton’s work ethic, I believe this will be the case.However, understanding that each game Helton has improved as a coach, why wouldn’t the Trojan decision makers want to extend the sample size of games coached, especially two upcoming games with high stakes. Wouldn’t it have made sense to see how Helton has evolved in a big game from his debut against Notre Dame to Stanford?What about how he would do during the dead weeks in between the championship and a potential Rose Bowl or lesser tier bowl? It would have been helpful to see how he improved in that period from the last time he did this two seasons ago. Helton’s performance thus far has been solid and respectable, but certainly not to a tremendous degree that would eliminate any need to continue an exhaustive coaching search.This hire feels rushed, much like the Sarkisian one a few days after the UCLA game two years ago. We all know how that turned out. It is pretty disconcerting to see an Athletics Department failing to learn from its past mistakes and, again, rush into a decision. That’s not to say Helton may not be successful, it just would have made complete sense to wait until after the bowl season and see if there was any interest from prominent coaches.Some might say that USC needs a coach for recruiting purposes, but USC recruits USC. Plain and simple. Even Paul Hackett brought in Carson Palmer and landed a commitment from Matt Leinart. Any coach USC hired would be able to piece together a top class.Locking in on one guy and ignoring everyone else is what landed us an inept and unprofessional coach last time. Helton seems to have more character, but it is still worrisome to see such stubborn and arrogant behavior from the Athletics Department. Learning from mistakes is the only way to prevent them from happening again. USC has so many resources that the right coach turns around the program in an instant. It could have waited one more month to make sure that Helton was the best guy to do that.I sincerely hope Helton does prove to be that guy. He has the raw materials to make it happen, and if he can hone his craft further, he can create a legacy that follows in the footsteps of Jones, Carroll, and McKay. Beating Stanford on Saturday would be a great place to start his journey.Jake Davidson is a junior majoring in accounting. His column, “Davidson’s Direction,” ran Mondays.last_img read more