MERIDEN — A local woman was recently recognized for her participation with the Special Olympics Connecticut. A physical therapist, she works with the athletes on their flexibility, strength and aerobic fitness levels.
Heidi Adamski said that 10 years ago she was invited to go to the Idaho World Winter Games. She was trained and became the co-clinical director for the Connecticut program.
“I’ve always had an interest in the Special Olympics,” Adamski said. “I had a great-uncle who participated in the Special Olympics. When I graduated from Quinnipiac University, Eunice Kennedy Shriver was one of the speakers.”
Shriver is the founder of the Special Olympics. Adamski works with a screening program called FUNfitness, which has multiple sections. The athletes can choose to be screened for services including dental, vision, physical therapy and footcare. Adamski said the goal of the screenings is to provide the athletes with healthcare services they may otherwise not have the ability to access.
Debbie Horne, director of communications and marketing for Special Olympics Connecticut, said Adamski and Colleen Langlais, the co-director with Adamski, both received the President’s Award this year.
“Since their time as co-directors, they have provided over 1,500 physical therapy screenings to Connecticut athletes,” Horne said.
For the physical therapy screening program, Adamski said they test the athletes’ flexibility, strength and aerobic fitness. If there is an area where the athletes are identified to need services beyond the screening, they and their families are provided with information about how to access those services, Adamski said. Horne said Adamski and Langlais recruit about 70 volunteers a year through the Connecticut Physical Therapy Association, physical therapy schools, and physical therapy assistant schools.
Adamski said she was shocked and very honored when she was notified that she was selected to receive the President’s Award this year. Adamski said it’s about volunteering her time, not being recognized for doing that, but she was very appreciative.
“It’s a very rewarding experience if you have the ability to share your time and talents,” Adamski said. “The athletes are very appreciative of the time people spend, and enjoy talking about their successes in the program.”