Q. Tell me a bit about who is in your family.
A. The Hinka Family is:
Jerry-Dad extraordinaire! Basketball Coach, Unified Golf partner, always actively involved. Family Could Not function without his great sense of humor! He works for The Antea Group.
Kerry-Mom Stay at home Mom, part time Children’s librarian in our town, loves to read and have parties, we are blessed to have a great circle of friends from our church and town so she can do that! Involved in the SO organization on the local level as PR volunteer, and general gal Friday!
Jake-22 United States Army, stationed at Fort Drum NY- when he lived at home he was a big supporter of his sisters and Special O, volunteered at every event, and always danced with all our female athletes who think he is “soooo CUTE!”
Molly-20- Our smiling sweetie! Beloved in our community.
Charlotte-18- Shy, a great bball player, loves Broadway musicals, Meryl Streep, and The New York Yankees! She is autistic and mentally impaired.
Danny-10- His sisters’ pet, he is a child with an enormous capacity to understand his sisters and their abilities and disabilities. He is the assistant basketball coach for the Pink Panthers, the girls’ team, and Charlotte’s unified partner in golf. He went to winter games when he was one as the snowshoe mascot, so when we say he was born into SO, we mean it!
Q. What have you, as a parent, gained from Special Olympics?
A. Special Olympics changed our lives. From the first time we entered the field we were welcomed, embraced, celebrated, teased, it just felt like coming home. Jerry and I both play sports and as a family we are super sporty, so looking for an outlet for our special needs kids was a natural. Though both Molly and Charlotte played regular community sports when they were younger, as they got older, the gap in ability and understanding grew as well.
Q. Has Special Olympics helped you meet other parents with similar experiences?
A. Parents in Special Olympics are their own support group. We share each others joys and sorrows. In this group you don’t need to explain your child, the other parents just “get it”. And often, in society, people don’t get it, and you are faced with “No’s” and “cant’s” as a matter of course. Sure, reasons are given, like “safety of your child” or some other nonsense, but the real reason is they are afraid of the special needs side of things. In Special Olympics, the emphasis is on “YES YOU CAN” and imagine what that does to both an athlete and a family!
Q. Special Olympics loves volunteers, right?
A. Special Olympics is a family volunteer opportunity. It is awesome to be able to model volunteering to your kids, and watch with pride as they serve. SO welcomes families as volunteers at events, and can always find something for even small hands/legs to do. Our family has volunteered since Molly joined 12 years ago. My 2 sons have been assistant coaches, chaperones and all around “fetch and carry” boys. My husband and I are both certified Coaches, he in basketball and I in swimming and snowshoe. Our calendar and our joy revolves around Special Olympics!
Q. What are Molly’s goals for the games in Greece?
A. Molly’s goals for Greece are to win 3 GOLD medals of course! She will try her hardest and hopefully have a great meet. Sometimes things go great and sometimes they don’t like in any other sport, so we hope it is her week! But she also is a big cheerleader for others, and loves to see her teammates win as much as she likes to win! The SO oath is “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” She believes in that. Her motto is “fast, friendly and fun!” and she is looking forward to making friends, dancing, and trying new foods, too!
I hope you all have enjoyed reading about Molly and her mom – they are extraordinary. Molly just competed in the Michigan Special Olympics, where she won gold in the 1500 meter run!
She and her family leave for Athens next week, and I’ll be sure to let you know how she does in her races.
I want to remind you that for every person that becomes a fan of the Thank You Mom Facebook page and/or leaves a comment, Procter & Gamble will donate $1 to support Special Olympics Team USA’s journey to Athens – up to $250,000!