We met 4 years ago at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in South Korea (where she won gold) and we immediately became fast friends.
She has overcome so many obstacles. Growing up, bullies made her feel her disability was way worse than it really was. She almost gave up, feeling that she shouldn’t even try because no one would ever accept her for her.
Then she found a sense of freedom, an escape. She found snowboarding, and the Special Olympics found her and her whole world changed.
In her own words, "It means that I can show the world what I can do. When I was first able to compete in the Winter World Games in South Korea, it was the first time I was able to compete against girls who were as good as I was. The competition was fierce, but it brought me back to why I started to snowboard in the first place. The freedom it made me feel.
Before I was at the World Games I was very quiet and shy and didn’t like showing people how good I was at snowboarding. After my experiences at the World Games, when I got gold, my confidence was boosted more than it ever has been in my life, knowing how hard I worked to get there, and was able to accomplish. It was a confidence and self-esteem booster. I felt like I had more confidence in my life about my disability and who I was. I came back more social and wanted to actually talk to people about myself and about my love for snowboarding.
I would not be the person I am today without the Special Olympics. Not a chance. I can now speak to people and feel good. I can even speak in front a group of people and on camera to people. I’ve realized that it's actually awesome to be different and I am actually proud of myself, which is something I never thought I’d feel. I embrace who I am because of what I’ve done with Special Olympics and competing at the World Games."
Daina has a heart so big that you could fall inside it. She reminds my why I love snowboarding and is just an amazing example of a human. She has taught me a lot about how to be grateful and I love her very much.
Please help me in raising funds to send Dana and the rest of the US Snowboarding team to the Special Olympics World Games in Austria this March.
Note: All funds raised here will be distributed directly to the Special Olympics Organization.
I hope you'll support her dreams by donating to this campaign and sharing it with your friends and family.