Special Olympics is a family affair for Brandon Younker. Brandon's uncle was a long-time athlete, and his grandfather is a long-time volunteer. When first diagnosed with having an intellectual disability, Brandon's mother knew that Special Olympics would provide a lifetime of great opportunities for Brandon. She enrolled Brandon, being confident that he would have lots of opportunities to interact with his peers, and to grow within Special Olympics. A few years into his journey, and Brandon's mother says Special Olympics has helped him tremendously already.
Brandon started out with 5-Pin Bowling, then quickly began also participating in Soccer, Floor Hockey and Softball. Brandon enjoys the opportunity to travel and compete with Special Olympics. Brandon's mother says that being away from home is a good experience, giving Brandon some independence. Given his youth, having his grandfather as one of his coaches has made the transition from community athlete to competitive athletes easier. Brandon's teammates and coaches are great to encourage him, and welcoming him. He feels like he belongs, like he is one of the gang.
Ahead of the 2018 National Summer Games, Brandon was named to Team PEI Softball. Brandon was thrilled for the opportunity, yet was quickly faced with a reality of sport - injury. While attending the Floor Hockey program, Brandon broke his right arm, landing him in a cast for 6 weeks. To make matters even more challenging, after having the cast removed the doctors advises that 4 additional weeks away from contact sports would be wise. Brandon did not let the break keep him away from practicing with his softball teammates. He continued to attend practices, doing what he could. Brandon got along great at the 2018 Games, was able to fully participate, and took home a Bronze medal.