RAVENA, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A 29-year-old Ravena swimmer is raising money to compete in the Special Olympics USA Games for the second time around. Rebecca Shook took home two gold medals and one silver in 2014, and she’s going back for the gold with the help of her community and her wearable art.
“Let’s just say, my bracelets are like snowflakes because no two are ever the same,” Shook said. “The best part is I made them myself; I made them all myself.”
During the height of the pandemic, Rebecca’s beloved pet bird passed away. She also struggled with being away from her swim team—the Albany Admirals. However, she kept her mind and hands busy by making hundreds of beaded pieces of jewelry.
“It was hard at first, but I managed to make it a lot easier for everyone,” Rebecca said.
Rebecca qualified for the National Special Olympics and was formally invited to compete in August. The games request each athlete contribute $2,000 to help cover costs.
With piles of bracelets, Rebecca took to local farmers’ markets and festivals to sell her one-of-a-kind bracelets for two dollars apiece. Currently, she’s almost halfway to her goal to make it back to the National Special Olympics.
“We don’t want people spending a lot of money, but most people end up putting five in,” Phyllis Shook, Rebecca’s mom, said. “We couldn’t be prouder.”
Rebecca is set to compete in the 500-meter freestyle, 100-meter backstroke, and medley relay.
She has no doubt that she’ll bring home a set of medals again, but this time around, she’s planning to take home the gold in all three races.
“I think having autism is a good thing, Rebecca said.
Rebecca added that the Special Olympics experience has changed her life for the better.
“By making me the person that I am today, and that’s something to be proud of,” Rebecca said.
If you’re interested in helping Rebecca with her journey to the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games, she will be selling her bracelets at the Thrift Bag Sale and Craft Vendor Event on December 18 at the Senior Projects of Ravena. Her mother, Phyllis, also has also created a Facebook fundraiser for New York Special Olympic athletes.