Michael Palitti is a proud Olympian with a number of medals and trophies to his name.
He has been involved with the Special Olympics since 2000 and competes in several sports: floor hockey, basketball, curling, soft ball, soccer and track and field. If he had to choose a favourite, he’d choose floor hockey.
Michael is also part of the Community Living Program (CLP) at Communitas Supportive Care Society, where he meets with Glen Olson once a week. Together they set goals for Michael to work at such as keeping his apartment tidy and improving his time management. Glen has known Michael for nearly six years and admires the way he has taken on the challenges of life with the same determination with which he approaches his sports.
“He’s a good guy,” Glen says. “He’s come a long way, taking care of himself and his place. He’s very responsible and encourages others in the program.”
Michael lives independently and keeps busy with day programs, volunteering, work and, of course, training for various competitions. He is proud of his athletic accomplishments. When asked how he developed his passion for sports, he thinks back on his childhood and realizes that he didn’t really play very much.
“I watched a lot of sports, especially baseball and hockey,” he says, adding that he’s a big fan of the Vancouver Canucks.
He did volunteer with sports teams, earning the nickname “Water Boy.” Friends and family encouraged him to give athletics a try but he was always hesitant.
“I wasn’t quite sure but my dad took me to have a look and I decided to sign up for floor hockey,” he says. “When the coaches saw me play, they were quite impressed.”
Floor hockey was the first Special Olympics sports in which he competed. He’s continued to add sports as his interest grew. Michael was part of the first Abbotsford curling team to make it to the nationals.
Michael credits the coaches of his various teams for his success, adding that they encourage him to try new things like playing goalie on his soccer team. He is looking forward to competing in track and field at the Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in Vancouver, July 8-12. Sport has been a positive influence in his life and encourages anyone to get involved.
“Join a team or be a volunteer and help out that way. They’re always looking for help,” he says.
Michael’s involvement in CLP and in the Special Olympics are vehicles through which he has developed both life and leadership skills.
“He’s an inspiring example of a person who is focusing on his abilities and living a full life,” Glen says. “I’m looking forward to cheering him on …”