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Inspiring Stories

Six young male special Olympians standing in line celebrating
Photo of Paul Preble special Olympian

Photo of Paul Preble swiming

 

Special Olympics Brings a Family Together

This is a Special Olympics love story.

It started 35 years ago with a 12-year-old boy named Paul Preble. Paul's family wanted him to learn how to swim. So Paul's aunt, Claudette Adkins, and her mom took him to a pool in Long Beach where Special Olympics had a swimming program. But things were different in those days. "They were hesitant to accept Paul because none of their coaches were trained to work with autistic children," says Claudette. "So my mom says, ‘Claudette will teach them.'"

Claudette walked down to the end of the pool and met the swim coach who would become Paul's teacher — and her future husband.

Claudette taught Keith (and many other coaches) how to work with autistic children.

Keith taught Paul how to swim.

Paul became the first autistic child accepted into the Long Beach Special Olympics program and he's been swimming ever since.

Keith and Claudette ("Coach Candy") have now retired from decades of coaching for Special Olympics, but are still very involved in bringing therapy animals to many events. And cheering Paul on to victory.