Meet Jamie Staton's Virtual Running Team: Mile 22      

Name: Kristen Davidson

Age: 23

Local Program: Manchester Sharks & Rochester Raiders

Athletics & basketball

Kristen Davidson is a Special Olympics athlete who started competing at the age of eight in basketball and athletics. Growing up, Kristen was a very active child and her mom thought that Special Olympics would be a great way to help her make friends and build confidence in herself. Kristen loves competing in athletics and Unified Basketball, to Kristen it doesn't matter if she wins or loses, what she cares about is having fun and meeting new people.

Special Olympics has given Kristen confidence in herself and her speaking skills, which allowed her to compete in Miss Amazing; a beauty pageant for those who have a disability. Her first year, Kristen and her mom did not know what to expect but they decided to try it. Kristen was judged on her evening attire, how she carried herself in front of the audience and the how she talked about herself and her hobbies to the judges during the interview process. Kristen won and represented the state of New Hampshire in the National Miss Amazing Pageant in Chicago in 2016, even though she did not win, she had a blast.

Kristen gained confidence from being part of Special Olympics which has allowed her to experience different opportunities and competitions outside of the sports world. She has a genuine love for all the athletes at Special Olympics and always looks forward to Special Olympics events, this year she was the individual winner in the costume parade at the Penguin Plunge, where she was dressed as a mermaid. Kristen's mom says, "Watching Kristen compete, you can see her confidence shine right through."

Name: Matthew Larson

Age: 19

Local Program: Merrimack Tigers, Nashua Special Olympics and Hudson 

Matthew Larson is a member of the Merrimack Tigers, Nashua Specials Olympics and Hudson Special Olympics, where he competes in softball, golf, floor hockey, bowling, athletics, basketball and alpine skiing. He started Special Olympics when he was eight years old, his mom thought that it would be a positive experience for him to be active and make new friends. His mom was happy that Matthew was able to participate in sports and also felt comfortable that her son would be taken care of.

Special Olympics has provided him with opportunities to be an athlete and feel accepted. He always had a love for sports, being part of Special Olympics provided him the opportunity to be able to display his athletic ability and show everyone how talented he is as an athlete, he has won many ribbons and medals. This year, at the State Winter Games, he took home a gold medal in skiing. Matthew also competes in Unified Volleyball, it allows him to compete and bond with those who do not have an intellectual disability; he believes that he is seen as an athlete and not as someone different than the rest. Not only has Special Olympics helped Matthew, but it has also helped his mom, as a parent, "It is great to be around people who you can relate with and lean on for support."

Matthew loves sports and being an athlete for Special Olympics New Hampshire, he enjoys being around people who accept him for who he is and continues to work hard. Through this organization, Matthew is constantly around positive role models who always encourage him to be his best. He is a great kid with an amazing work ethic; Matthew continues to train every day because he believes that there is always room to be a better athlete but most importantly a better person.