She wasn’t supposed to go. She thought the team had been finalized. But then came the phone call: “Colleen, would you like to be on the Special Olympics USA Team going to the World Summer Games in Berlin?”
For Millstadt resident Colleen Costello, it was an easy question to answer!
“I’ve been wanting to go for years and years and years,” Colleen said. “I first thought I wanted to go to a world games before I even started training as a Special Olympics gymnast. I used to watch the Olympics on TV when I was little. As I was watching, I knew I wanted to be up there. I wanted to do that. I wanted to go there. I wanted to go to the Olympic world games. And guess what? I get to go!”
Colleen has been called a “trailblazer” for Special Olympics. She was the very first member of the PTOEC (Parent Teacher Organization for Exceptional Children) gymnastics team and was the all-around gold medal artistic gymnast at the very first Special Olympics USA National Games in Ames, Iowa in 2006. At the 2022 Nationals in Orlando, Florida, Colleen was a champion again! She earned five medals, including a gold medal on the uneven parallel bars.
This time, Colleen will be competing in rhythmic gymnastics. Each rhythmic routine includes tumbling and dance moves to music as she keeps the different apparatus moving with her. Her specialties in these competitions will be the hoop, the clubs, the rope, and her favorite: the ribbon.
Colleen isn’t just an athlete, she’s an athlete leader. She served as the first athlete on the PTOEC board of directors and now serves on the Special Olympics Illinois state board of directors. Her special mission as a board member is to do everything she can to improve competitions and events for her athlete friends. She’s also a very good speaker, most recently giving the keynote speech and acting as the announcer at the opening reception for the state winter games in Galena this past February.
The Special Olympics World Games will be held in Berlin from 17 June to 25 June. Some of the events will be televised, so watch for the listings. What does Colleen think about that?
“Going to world games…I don’t know how to explain it! It means I’m excited. It means that going to Berlin is going to be my favorite thing to do! Ever! This is my dream come true!”