Athlete Spotlight: Ricky Pyne
By Jennifer Dowdy, Volunteer Engagement Manager
When Ricky Pyne was born, the doctors told his parents he wouldn’t live past 12 years. That was 59 years ago. Ricky has not only defied the odds, but he has flourished as an athlete and cemented his legacy in Special Olympics.
As we celebrate 50 years of the Special Olympics movement, Ricky is also celebrating 50 years as a Special Olympics athlete. Ricky joined Special Olympics when he was 9 years old, training and competing in swimming and gymnastics all through school. “I’m a very good swimmer. Nobody beat me in the 100 freestyle,” Ricky proudly shares. Over his 50 year athletic career, Ricky has also competed in track and field, basketball, softball and candlepin bowling with the Scituate Mariners team. “Swimming and bowling are my favorite. I got 114 in bowling!” Ricky’s older brother, Jack, lovingly adds, “He thinks he’s the world’s greatest athlete. And some of it’s true.”
When Ricky and Jack’s mom passed away in 1999, Jack got more involved. He and his wife have helped Ricky’s team over the years with softball and bowling.
“Special Olympics has been a very positive impact. He really enjoys it. Truly, it’s been a great thing for him. He’s a happy camper and he’s healthy,” Jack says.
To become healthier, Ricky used diet and exercise to lose 120 pounds – no easy feat. He lifts weights, uses the treadmill and Special Olympics gives him social opportunities and exercise. “He loves the social life,” Taffy Nothnagle, the Scituate Mariners Local Program Coordinator, shares.
Ricky is currently training with his Scituate Mariners teammates for his next tournament – the Senior Sports Classic. Although very competitive, he and his teammates have fun motivating one another, with Ricky confidently predicting, “I’m gonna get two gold medals!” Ricky is looking forward to competing in race walking and horseshoes at Senior Sports and will be competing in memory of his family members: “I walk faster for my mom, dad, and Uncle John.”
Good luck, Ricky, and we hope you earn those two gold medals!
If you are interested in supporting Special Olympics athletes over 40 years old, sign up to volunteer today!