Special to the times-News
CUMBERLAND — When Jake Reynolds moved from Southern California to Cumberland he had barely seen snow, much less skied. Now, five years later, he is one of an elite group chosen to compete on the U.S. downhill skiing team in the 2013 World Winter Special Olympics in Pyeong Chang, South Korea.
The winter games will feature world-class competition in alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, figure skating, snowboarding and speed skating, among other sports. Every two years, thousands of Special Olympics athletes worldwide come together to showcase their athletic skills and celebrate the spirit of Special Olympics. The first Special Olympic World Games took place in 1968 and since then have evolved into a world-class sporting event, attracting a wide range of sponsors, supporters and media.
Twenty-year-old Jake moved from Los Angeles to Cumberland in 2007 with his mother, Pam, who now owns the Bruce House Inn B&B. The Reynolds family searched for a small city that would be the perfect home for a young man living with autism, a neurological developmental disorder with no known cure. Known for the character of its people, hard-work ethic, friendliness and willingness to help others, Cumberland fit the bill perfectly.
Jake has thrived here in our Western Maryland community, making many friends while attending Allegany High School and the Career Center; participating in Special Olympics, the Annual Autism Walk and Hooley Plunge; being an active member of Scout Troop 89, and learning to snow ski at the nearby WISP Resort. And now, after only two years of skiing competitively, he will be representing our community and our country in South Korea in January.
Doug Schwab, one of Jake’s coaches, has been there from the beginning. “It’s been wonderful to watch Jake’s progress, and to see his confidence grow as his skills grow. He is a natural athlete,” said Doug, who hopes to make the 7,000-mile trek to Korea in January along with Jake, his mother and father Paul.
“I’m so thrilled that Jake has qualified to take part in the games,” said Pam. “I’m so proud of my son and grateful to this community that helps nurture individual dreams turning them into reality.”
If you see Jake Reynolds, tell him congratulations. And if you can help get Jake to South Korea, please consider a donation.
For more information, go to www.facebook.com/Olympic TeamJake?ref=ts&fref=ts.
Donations can be made to Pam Reynolds, Bruce House Inn B&B, 201 Fayette St., Cumberland, MD 21502.