Special Olympian Bruce Williams brings home gold

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Since 1968, the Special Olympics have been a global movement used to unleash the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports. They empower people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all.

In Washington State, year-round sports training and athletic competition are provided in a variety of Olympic-type sports for more than 18,000 children and adults who refuse to believe a disability is a limitation. These inspiring individuals are given continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in the sharing of friendship with their fellow athletes.

Thirty-seven-year-old Bruce Williams is a proud Tulalip tribal member who has competed in numerous sporting events at the Special Olympics for over a decade. Previously showcasing his skills at soccer, basketball and volleyball in years past, Bruce is now focused on track and field. He’s had a long-time passion with running, so it was only a matter of time before he transitioned to track.

Bruce’s collection of previously won medals.

On Sunday, April 28 the Cascade Area Regionals were hosted at Mariner High School in Everett. After months of preparation and sporting his brand new pair of Nike Free running shoes, Bruce was ready to race. His first competition was the 100-meter sprint. In a highly contested dash, Bruce took 2nd place, finishing less than a tenth of a second behind the 1st place runner. For his effort he was awarded a silver medal.

A short while later, Bruce again took to the starting line, this time for the 200-meter sprint. This time he wouldn’t be denied the gold. From the start he jumped out in front of the pack and maintained his momentum all the through the finish line. A huge smile on his face after finishing 1st, Bruce was beaming when he received a gold medal.

The Special Olympian proudly wore his two medals every day the following week. He made time to sit down with Tulalip News staff and share his thoughts about winning gold and silver in his two athletic events. Here are some of the highlights from that conversation:

Q: How does it feel to be a gold-winning Olympian?

A: “Feels great! Very proud of winning. Want to show everybody my medals.”

Q: What was your training routine like? 

A: “Train on the treadmill, do laps at the Marysville YMCA, and lots of track stretches. Very important to stretch.”

Q: Any special foods you like to have on race day?

A: “Strawberry yogurt is my favorite and lots of water.”

Q: You raced in a pair of Nike Free shoes. What do you like about them?

A: “They make me run fast!”

Q: Were you nervous going into your races?

A: “A little. Lots of people racing, but I’m the fastest one around.”

Q: You’ll be competing at the Spring State Games next month. What are your expectations?

A: “Win more gold, the big one this time.”

Bruce will be prepping over the next several weeks to compete against the best Special Olympians in the state. The 2019 Spring State Games will be held May 31 – June 2 at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. Bruce asks that anyone who isn’t busy those days to come out and cheer him on to victory. 

Special Olympians carry Flame of Hope through Tulalip


By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

The Flame of Hope was once again proudly carried through Quil Ceda Village on the evening of June 28, for the ‘Final Leg’of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games. The flame is carried by law officials and Special Olympic athletes through local communities nationally to raise awareness and funds for the Special Olympics every summer.

At the end of May, the Tulalip Police Department participated in the Torch Run. Two local officers carried the Flame of Hope for over twelve miles through the Stanwood, Marysville and Tulalip communities in anticipation of the 2018 Special Olympics State Spring Games at Pacific Lutheran University.

The Final Leg is the last torch run of the year and takes place prior to the Special Olympics USA Games. Washington State hosted the main event this year at the UW Husky Stadium, making Tulalip one of the last stops.  The group of nearly thirty law enforcement officials and Special Olympians who carried the Flame of Hope throughout Quil Ceda Village, also ran through many other communities in Washington, some as far away as Spokane.

The runners began their one-mile journey at the Bank of America and were cheered on by local commuters all the way to the Tulalip Amphitheater, where an intimate ceremony occurred comprised of Washington State Patrol officers, the Marysville Police Department, Tulalip Bay Fire Department and Tulalip Police Department. Interim Chief Pruitt was on MC duty for the ceremony, welcoming the group of runners once they arrived at the amphitheater.

“The Special Olympics was founded in 1968 and it strives to create a better world by fostering the acceptance and inclusion of all people,”the Chief explained after a remarkable performance of the National Anthem by the Everett Chorale. “It reflects how the power of sports instills confidence, improves health and inspires the sense of competition. The Special Olympics transforms lives through the joy of sports every day, everywhere.  It is the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities, with more than 4.9 million athletes in over one hundred and seventy-two countries. The Law Enforcement Torch Run is the largest grassroots fundraising and awareness campaign for the Special Olympics across the globe. More than 97,000 law enforcement personnel participate in volunteering and fundraising internationally. This year Team Washington has two hundred and fifty athletes that were selected to compete in the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games.”

Many Special Olympians were among the group, including Ernie Roundtree who found a passion for running in marathons through the Special Olympics. Ernie, who is from Pennsylvania competed in a number of events in the Special Olympics for over eighteen years.

“Today I would like to talk about how the Special Olympics impacted my life,”said Ernie to the crowd of supporters. “Special Olympics changed my life and impacted me to do more. Because of the Special Olympics, I’ve completed seven full marathons, two in Disneyworld and one Marine Corps marathon. Special Olympics has taught me not to give up, to stay strong and if you put one foot in front of the other, soon you’ll be crossing the finish line.”

Tulalip Chairwoman, Marie Zackuse, was also in attendance. She admired all of the athlete’s spirits, noting the games hold a special place in her heart, as she has a nephew who loved to participate in the Special Olympics.

“It’s my honor to welcome the delegation that came running in,”said Marie. “I’m so very proud of each and every one of you. We are very appreciative and want to honor all those community members and athletes. We are truly honored to host this stop and we wish that each and every athlete not only wins but has fun. My hands go up to the law enforcement here, the ones that came in on the run and all those who brought this together.”

The event concluded with an inspiring moment. Keeping true to Tulalip traditions, the Tulalip Police Department gifted the Special Olympians with necklaces featuring a small cedar paddle pendant, carved by Tulalip artist Tony Hatch.

The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games are happening July 1-6 at the UW Husky Stadium and features over 4,000 athletes. For more information, please visit www.SpecialOlympics.org


Cherokee Teen Will Carry Torch at Special Olympics

Courtesy Amy ByrdSway-Anne Byrd, Cherokee, is a 14-year-old competitor in the Special Olympics.

Courtesy Amy Byrd
Sway-Anne Byrd, Cherokee, is a 14-year-old competitor in the Special Olympics.

Sam Laskaris, Indian Country Today

For the third consecutive year, Sway-Anne Byrd will compete in the Area Special Olympic Games in her hometown. But for the 14-year-old Cherokee girl, who lives in Havre, Montana, this year’s games will have some added significance. That’s because the teenager, who was born with Down syndrome, will carry the torch during the opening ceremonies of the Games, which will be staged on Wednesday.

The opening ceremonies will feature Byrd running a lap of the school’s track with the ceremonial lit torch. Besides carrying the torch, Byrd will also be leading all of the other participants in the games as they too will follow her and run a lap as well. “I’ve only seen adults carry the torch,” Byrd’s mother Amy told ICTMN. “Since she’s only 14, this is pretty cool.”

The coaches of athletes participating in the games as well as some of the volunteers choose one athlete to be the torchbearer at the opening ceremonies. Officials contacted the family a few weeks ago to see if Sway-Anne would be interested in the position. Byrd’s family considers it a huge honor that Sway-Anne was chosen to have a key role in the Games’ opening ceremonies. “It’s like if you were playing football or if you were playing basketball and you win an award,” Amy Byrd said of her daughter’s torchbearer selection. “This is at that level for her.”


Sway-Anne Byrd (Courtesy Amy Byrd)
Sway-Anne Byrd (Courtesy Amy Byrd)


And the excitement is building as the games approach. Byrd’s mother said her daughter was rather elated on Monday night as she practiced for her lap with the torch. “She was jumping up and down,” she said. “She was so excited.”

The Area Special Olympic Games are held each year in Havre. Should they choose to do so, participants can also take part in the annual Montana Special Olympics. At the state level in Montana there are annual summer and winter Special Olympics. “We haven’t gone to the state games as of yet,” Amy said. “She’s very independent, but it’s a very large atmosphere there. I don’t think she’s quite ready for that yet.”

As she did a year ago, Byrd will participate in four track and field events at Wednesday’s games. She will run in the girls’ 50-metre and 100-metre races in her age group. And she will also take part in the standing long jump event and the softball throw (the shot put equivalent for Special Olympians). At the 2014 games, Byrd captured gold medals in her 50-metre race and standing long jump. And she won silver and bronze medals in her 100-metre and softball throw events, respectively.

“She really enjoys it,” said Byrd’s mother.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/04/28/cherokee-teen-will-carry-torch-special-olympics-160170

Tyler Fryberg takes the gold, qualifies for Special Olympics State Tournament

Killian Page, Isaiah Pablo, Tony Hatch, Tyler Fryberg, Drew Hatch, Donovan Hamilton

Killian Page, Isaiah Pablo, Tony Hatch, Tyler Fryberg, Drew Hatch, Donovan Hamilton

By Tony Hatch, Tulalip Tribes

May 5th, 2013 was a rewarding day for many.  Tulalip Tribal member, Tyler Fryberg swept all four of his events, qualifying him for the Special Olympics State Tournament. Marysville Pilchuck produced just about 100 student athletes to volunteer with this years’ Special Olympics, Regions/State Qualifier.

The boys volunteered to help every athlete, but had a special interest in fellow Tulalip athletes, Tyler Fryberg and Bruce Williams (not pictured). They were really happy to be there to help, but the amount of intensity that comes along with these athletes is amazing.  They take their events serious and train very hard to compete and hopefully make it to the State Tourney, held at Fort Lewis. Tyler is not only a hero for people of Tulalip, but his fellow athletes, their parents and coaches make if clear that they enjoy watching him compete.

Tyler competed in four events Sunday, the Shot Put, 400-meter run, 100-meter, and the 400-meter relay.  He swept all four events, bringing home four gold medals.  Although, Tyler had his own cheering section of Tulalips, crowds would gather when it was his heat to race.  Tyler pretty much dominated all of his events with the exception of the 400-meter sprint.  This was very intense, as he was in second place for most of the race, but coming into the home stretch, Tyler turned on the afterburners and closed the gap on the leader, and with about 20 feet to the finish line, he passed the leader and won the race.  This was a great finish to a great race and the crowd went crazy.

Bruce Williams also qualified for State, winning a gold medal in the 200-meter sprint, where he blew away his competition, by 40 feet or so.  (Sorry Bruce, my phone went dead before I could get pictures of you, but we are very proud of you as well!)

We as fellow Tulalips are very proud of these guys and of course their fellow athletes for their heart and dedication.  You are definitely an inspiration to the Tomahawk Athletes who were there, showing that with drive and determination, we can all be great. When 1 Tulalip succeeds, all Tulalips succeed.

Tyler Fryberg on top of the podium

Tyler Fryberg on top of the podium

Thanks you guys, for the great day, and good luck at State.