“I came from a background growing up where I thought I would end up in the prison system because I was that angry, but SOWI changed my life.”
This week we hear from 2018 USA Games Delegate Cynthia Bentley from Glendale! Cynthia has been involved with SOWI for almost 50 years, and she was the first athlete inducted into the Dennis H. Alldridge Hall of Fame during the 2016 Summer Games! Read on to learn how SOWI has truly changed her life– this is a story you don’t want to miss!
How and when did you become involved with SOWI?
I became involved when I was eight years old. A coach, Chris, got me involved. That is almost 50 years of involvement! The first sport I did was track and then basketball and softball.
What sport(s) do you participate in and what is your favorite sport?
My favorite sport is basketball. My second favorite is tennis, and my third is volleyball. Basketball is fun because I love to steal the ball, getting on the floor to wrestle for the ball and sometimes I surprise myself and make a basket! I watch a lot of basketball and I love it. I know that my coach thought tennis was my favorite- but sorry- it’s actually basketball!
What do you like most about being involved with SOWI?
SOWI has changed my life. I was an angry person growing up. It helped my confidence, I started to believe in myself— I may not be the most coordinated athlete but that’s what I like about SOWI; you can just be yourself! You are accepted for who you are. SOWI has helped me with my coordination, and it has helped me value my teammates and coaches. I have traveled all over the world. It helped me become a leader in the Special Olympics movement. It helped me make friends!I now have so many friends and people who love and care about me and I think my biggest hero is Eunice Shriver, Tim Shriver and Loretta Claiborne. I remember the doctors said I would not amount to anything—I have come through so many obstacles because of SOWI. It has helped me take airplanes and master escalators. I am truly thankful for all the opportunities that I have had. I do not take any opportunity for granted. I came from a background growing up where I thought I would end up in the prison system because I was that angry, but SOWI changed my life. I will always be truly grateful for that.
What is your favorite SOWI memory?
My favorite memory is carrying the United States flag with Dan Jansen in the 1995 Games. Meeting Monica Seles is a close second.
How would your life be different if you never joined SOWI?
It would be boring! I wouldn’t be connected and I would not have a life. I would probably be at home, isolated. I do not want any of my friends or athletes I meet to be isolated. Going to SOWI every week makes me feel very happy and I always look forward to seeing my friends and coaches. SOWI has kept me so healthy, emotionally and physically.
Why do you think other people should get involved with SOWI?
So they can have something to look forward to every week. They can get involved in leadership and they can have a voice.