Local Special Olympics Athlete is Going for Gold in Berlin World Games16th March 2023
Downpatrick woman Jacqueline Stewart is preparing to embark on an exciting trip to Berlin to compete in the Special Olympics – World Games 2023. This flagship event is hosted every two years and brings together the entire Special Olympics movement to see athletes in action and celebrate their victories against huge odds.
Jacqueline, who is a resident of Struell Lodge supported housing and a member of the Down Special Olympics Sports Club, has been selected to compete in the World Games in the sport of Golf (9 holes). Jacqueline is no stranger to the sport and has already won a gold medal in the Special Olympics back in 2018.
Jacqueline hopes to recreate her success at the 2023 games, explaining, “I love playing golf and I am really proud of myself for getting picked. I have been practising really hard with my caddy Rita. She is a lovely lady and really helps me, we get on really well.
“I celebrated a hole in one in my last residential training session which I am really thrilled about. I really want to bring home the gold!”
Jacqueline has been involved with Special Olympics since 2009 and is volunteering with children aged 4 and up who are making their first tentative steps on their Special Olympics journey. Teaching these young people how to play games and spend time singing and dancing with them is something that Jacqueline really enjoys, she added, “The little ones are great and so much fun, I like singing nursery rhymes with them and showing them how to play, I like helping them.”
Disability Residential Worker, Josephine Engelen, who has supported Jacqueline in this endeavour expressed how proud she is of Jacqueline’s efforts saying, “Jacqueline is a very special person. I was her key worker for 2 years and we built a real bond of friendship in that time, we keep in touch regularly.
“I am so proud of her and wish her all the luck in the world. I have every faith that she will bring home the gold medal.”
Travelling back and forth to Dublin for training and the trip to Berlin is expensive so Jacqueline has been fundraising to help with the costs. The local community is really supporting her and has been donating items for hampers, with some going out of their way to pre-make hampers to raffle to raise funds. Staff members of Struell Lodge together with their families have also been fundraising with a variety of events including a sponsored walk and selling ballot tickets.
Jacqueline has been overwhelmed by the support she has received and would like to thank everyone who has contributed. Over £300 has been raised so far!