Participating in Special Olympics has given Vincent Pirro the opportunity to be strong and healthy. Now 22 years old, Vincent began competing with Special Olympics at age 9.
Last year he trained in 7 Special Olympics sports with the local program in Westfield: track & field, basketball, bowling, soccer, golf, power lifting and softball. Only 3 other athletes in Massachusetts, out of over 14,000, trained in that many. Out of the seven, his favorites are bowling, soccer, basketball and power lifting. His passion and dedication for power lifting was even noticed by the USA Power Lifting Organization during Summer Games at Harvard.
"They approached Vincent's power lifting coach, Mike Z and said they could see Vincent had the forms down and truly loved the sport," his mom Diane Pirro said. "[They] asked Vincent to attend and compete in a power lifting event the USA Power Lifting Organization was holding. Several months later, with additional training from Coach Mike, Vincent competed in that event and took home the gold in his division!! With out Special Olympics Vincent never would have had that experience."
In addition to his sport specific training, Vincent works out several days a week.
"I train with a personal trainer Dan, twice a week. I go to the JCC in Springfield two times a week," Vincent said. "On Mondays at the JCC, I work out with Juliet for an hour then I work out with a coed group. On Wednesday's at the JCC I go to "Move to the Beat" class."
Outside of sports and fitness, Vincent participates in the Sunshine Village Day Program in Chicopee which includes social groups and outings.
Special Olympics is a major part of his life and he strives to be the best athlete he can be.
"I see tremendous growth in Vincent since he started with Special Olympics 13 years ago," she said. "Vincent is an intense athlete and wants to the best that he can in each sport. He gets mad at himself if he feels he didn't do his part. I really thought Vincent would say that power lifting is his favorite sport. I was happy to hear he has four favorites!"
Vincent says on top of all the sports he trains in, he'd like to try wrestling although it is not currently offered by Special Olympics Massachusetts. Participating in Special Olympics has impacted just about every part of his life from fitness to meeting new friends.
"I like being strong and Special Olympics helps me to be strong," Vincent said. "I like hanging out with friends at Special Olympics."