GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) Robert Malnight from Kalamazoo was awarded the “2014 SpartanNash Healthy Athlete of the Year” award on Thursday, May 29. The award was given to Robert during Opening Ceremonies of the 2014 Special Olympics Michigan (SOMI) State Summer Games presented by SpartanNash in front of a crowd of 5,000 people at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
Claps, smiles and tears were shared as Robert walked proudly across the stage to receive his award. “It feels great and inspiring,” Robert said. After receiving his award, you could truly tell how deserving Robert was of this honor and to now represent athletes across Michigan. “Now the other athletes have a chance to be in sports, and know sportsmanship, and go out and do it,” he said.
Robert has been participating in Special Olympics Michigan for more than nine years as an athlete in Unified swimming, traditional swimming, alpine skiing, Unified basketball, softball, poly hockey, bowling, Unified golf and traditional golf. This year, Robert even decided to give gymnastics a try in an effort to improve his flexibility.
Special Olympics Michigan has given Robert the opportunity to strive for wellness, and a balance of the mind, body and spirit. Even when Robert isn’t competing, he sticks to a well-balanced diet and dedicates time outside of SOMI to exercise. Since focusing on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, Robert has lost more than 50 pounds and 10 pant sizes.
Robert, who was born with both autism and fetal alcohol syndrome, always gives 100 percent at every practice and competition. Besides being an athlete at SOMI, he recently won a gold medal in the NASTAR (National Standard Race) alpine ski racing event at Crystal Mountain. SpartanNash is proud to name Robert as their well-deserving 2014 Healthy Athlete of The Year.
Now as the SpartanNash Athlete of The Year, Robert will also become a Global Messenger to help spread the mission of Special Olympics Michigan and its positive impact on athletes across the state.
About Special Olympics Michigan
Special Olympics Michigan Inc. (SOMI) provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for 20,752 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Athletes build physical fitness, develop self-confidence and prepare for participation in society.
SOMI is a non-profit organization supported almost entirely by corporate and individual gifts, and events, without support of state funds. The generosity of Michigan organizations, individuals and statewide businesses enable the program to continue.