Serving Up a Winning Example

Special Olympian Jon Fried visits Olympic Fever campers

August 11, 2016  |  Back to Blog & News

While the 2016 Summer Games are in full swing in Rio, campers at the Virginia Discovery Museum are catching Olympic Fever here at home. After spending the week running, jumping, and tumbling their way through the museum's Olympic-themed summer camp, the aspiring athletes met Special Olympian Jon Fried, a Crozet local who knows a few things about competing at the highest level, working hard to accomplish goals, and showing good sportsmanship.

Fried, a three-time medalist in tennis on the world stage, visited Olympic Fever camp Thursday to share his experiences traveling and playing around the globe, and the children had an opportunity to see his medals. After competing in his first Special Olympics World Games in New Haven, Conn., in 1995, Fried went on to win gold at the 2007 Games in Shanghai. In 2011, he earned silver and bronze medals in Athens for singles and mixed doubles, respectively. 

"Even if they haven't played tennis [...], the kids can make that personal connection to somebody who does the things we've been talking about, but 'He's kind of like me, too!'" VDM Education Manager Kaitlin German said.

Campers were especially curious to know which of Fried's medals is his favorite (gold, of course) and how much time he spends practicing to become so good at tennis (about 4 hours each day). "Aye, yai, yai!" one boy replied.

Fried reminded the kids that success comes from working hard and that as good as winning feels, meeting new people and showing good sportsmanship is what makes playing sports so much fun.

Campers spent the week learning about different athletes — including those who compete in the Special Olympics and Paralympics — as well as diving into the rich history of the famous Games and learning about the 2016 host country Brazil.

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This summer, the Virginia Discovery Museum has welcomed more than 90 campers, ages 4 to 8, across eight uniquely themed educational camps. Twenty-two of those campers have attended as part of a new scholarship program introduced this year through a grant from the Bama Works Foundation.