LATHAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A 23-year-old Autistic man from Clifton Park got a big surprise today—finding out that he’s going to the 2020 Special Olympics USA Games

Anthony Lawless thought he was coming to a regular practice when his powerlifting coach told him the good news in front of a crowd of family and friends at ABC Sports and Fitness in Latham. 

“I didn’t think I’d wake up this morning, and I’d be going to nationals. I thought, wake up, watch tv, maybe go for a walk,” Lawless said. 

Chris Hughes is the Head Coach for the Spartans Special Olympics New York Team that provides training to ten powerlifters with intellectual disabilities

“There are only three powerlifters from the state of New York, and one of them happens to be from our team,” Hughes said. “Every time he comes to practice, he’s always there, he’s always got his stuff, he pushes himself and pushes himself. He’s almost deadlifting 300 pounds.”

Lawless began powerlifting in 2018 and quickly fell in love with the sport. 

“I said, I will give it a shot, and it was the best decision I ever made,” Lawless said. “Knowing that I can go and challenge with lifting the wait and the accomplishment that I was able to. That makes me feel proud of myself and eager to come back and lift something else, something heavier.”

The 2020 Special Olympics USA Games will be held at Walt Disney World in Orlando. There, 94 New Yorkers will compete with 4,000 athletics from all 50 states, including two from the Glens Falls area.

“This is authentic competitive sports and really showing the world that people with intellectual disabilities can do everything that everybody else does,” Stacey Hengsterman, President and CEO of Special Olympics New York, said.  

Lawless told NEWS10 that he doesn’t want to stop at the national games. 

“My dream at the end of the day, I hope one day to go to the world games. That’s my dream, hopefully, to represent team U.S. That’s my dream.”