Meet Jamie Staton's Virtual Running Team: Mile 2

Kora Kalfaoglu & Neil Hiltz

Name: Kora Kalfaoglu
Hometown: Exeter
Age: 24
Local Program: Exeter Area Athletes
Sports: Athletics & Bowling

Kora “Runs like the Wind” Kalfaoglu is a proud member of the Exeter Area Athletes Local Program. When asked about her experiences with Special Olympics, it all circles back to Exeter pride! She is proud of her team’s long history because Exeter Area Athletes is led by Jim Tufts who attended the very first State Summer Games in NH in 1970. She is proud of the nickname her team has given her, “before every race Coach Tufts tells me to run like the wind,” Kora said, “and I always do.” And she is proud of her team’s peer coaches, who, she explained, not only help her with track & field but also have become her friends.

When asked what motivates Kora to keeping running like the wind, the answer is simple…gold medals! Kora has quite a few in her collection already, including two that she took home at the 2017 State Summer Games for the 100M and 50M runs. Kora is hoping to add a few more to her collection as she trains to compete in the Special Olympics USA Games this summer in Seattle.

So far, the Games have been a lot of fun and a lot of firsts for Kora. She attended training camp with the team in December and it was her first time every staying overnight without her family. Kora remembers being nervous at first, but eventually she says that “I just chill-laxed and had fun!” Kora is looking forward to her trip to Seattle. She is hoping to see the Space Needle and can’t wait to have a roommate. “My brother is in college and he has a roommate,” Kora said, “So I am very excited to get to have one too. My roommate might be friendly, and maybe I will make a new friend.
Name: Neil Hiltz
Age: 22
Hometown: Goffstown
Local Program: Team Uncanoonuc
Sports: Basketball, Bocce, Bowling

Neil Hiltz is a very tall individual. He stands at a whopping 6 feet 8 inches, but do not let that figure intimidate you. Neil is a super kind and friendly person. He enjoys volunteering at the New Hampshire Food Bank where he is does a variety of jobs. He believes it is important to be “very helpful to others in need, by being kind.”

Neil is a proud member of Team Uncanoonuc and started participating in Special Olympics New Hampshire (SONH) when he was in the ninth grade and he has not looked back. Today, Neil enjoys participating in basketball, bocce, and bowling. Throughout his time with Special Olympics he was won a variety of gold, silver, and bronze medals. When asked about why he has continued to participate in Special Olympics he responded with, “My friends encourage me to do great things and the coaches involved here support me.” With this encouragement from his friends, support from his coaches, and participation in Special Olympics Neil believes that he has been able to overcome his anxiety and push himself out his comfort zone to reach his goals as an athlete. He has had some challenges dealing with his anxiety in the past, but he feels he has a more positive outlook and has become more flexible in dealing with his anxiety.

Neil’s favorite things about SONH, is “having fun, being silly with friends, getting lots of exercise, and it gives him something to look forward too.” Neil is a quite an active individual. He believes that the Special Olympics really motivates and helps him, “to stay in shape and be physically fit.”He also enjoys doing other activities outside of SONH, like taekwondo, hiking, kayaking, swimming, and many more fun activities. He has enjoyed all the opportunities Special Olympics has given him and he is looking forward to many more in the future.