28-year-old Lizzie Enriquez-Ortiz discovered her love of running when she was a child in Baja, Mexico. But it wasn’t until her family moved to Seattle that Lizzie discovered Special Olympics. This Kaiser Permanente member has big goals and even bigger talent.
Lizzie has participated in Special Olympics regional and state events in track and field, swimming, basketball, bowling, and flag football. This is her first time in the Special Olympics USA Games, competing in the 800-meter run, the 4 x 100-meter relay and mini javelin throw. She began javelin just a year ago and already throws it 42 feet.
Lizzie’s goals include winning gold in the USA Games, and qualifying to compete in hurdles and swimming in the next Special Olympics World Games. “Competing on the world stage is important to me. I want to show that someone with autism can do amazing things,” she says. “And it’s amazing that the USA Games are happening here. I’m determined to make Seattle and Washington state very proud.”
Daily training includes lifting weights, swimming, and running laps. Lizzie uses an activity tracking wristband that shows what percentage of her health goal she’s achieved. “When you reach 100% it vibrates with a picture of a trophy,” Lizzie says. “It makes training easier.” Lizzie’s mom is her biggest fan and supports her making healthy lifestyle choices. Lizzie knows good health improves her performance so she’s increased her intake of water, fruits, vegetables, and protein.
When not training or competing, Lizzie volunteers at West Seattle Elementary School as a teacher’s aide and provides library support. She also likes to read and watch movies. And Lizzie has another passion; she’s an aviation and aeronautics enthusiast. Her long-term life goal is out of this world: “I want to be the first person on the autism spectrum to go into space with NASA.”