Liam Mrotzek, a valued member of the John’s Crazy Socks Team, represented the United States in the Special Olympics Winter World Games in Austria and returned home with two bronze medals in snowshoeing. Liam won the medals in the 200 meter and 4 X 100 relay races.
Liam competes for the Huntington Blue Devil Special Olympics Snowshoe Team and was selected for the U.S. National Team after his performances in regional snowshoe meets and the New York Special Olympics State Games.
Our co-founder, John Cronin, was selected as an alternate to the U.S National Team. Though John stood ready to compete, he was not called upon to attend the World Games.
At the Special Olympics, Liam got to meet athletes from all over the world, including Spain, Mexico, Germany and Japan. He loves meeting new people and is happy to have new friends all over the world. He also got to meet Austria’s President, Alexander Van der Bellen, and the terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Liam had a lot to share with the office about his time in Austria. He says he loved sightseeing with his family and he wants to return to Austria with his family so they can see more of the country.
Liam’s biggest thrill came when he stood on the medal stand to receive his bronze medals.
In 2012, Coach Linda Roth-Costello, established the Huntington Blue Devil Special Olympics Team. Four dedicated athletes joined the team: Liam, John, Andrew and Brendan. Andrew is also a colleague at John’s Crazy Socks. They train year-round and run on the beach to simulate the snow. Liam said, “The workouts are hard, but they get us ready for our races.”
The Blue Devil Team made a big impression on the Special Olympics snowshoe scene from their very first regional meet at West Mountain in upstate New York. The team walked away with a bevy of Gold and Silver medals.
The hard work and success at multiple New York State Games led Liam to the national team and the Winter World Games.
The Special Olympics is an international sports competition, started in 1968, for athletes with various intellectual disabilities. On their website, they describe themselves as a global movement of people creating a new world of inclusion and community, where every single person is accepted and welcomed, regardless of ability or disability.
The World Games are held every two years, alternating between summer and winter games. There are also local, regional and national competitions held throughout the year all over the world.
The Special Olympics were the first charity partner of John’s Crazy socks. We contribute five percent of our earnings to the Special Olympics. It was very easy for us to choose the Special Olympics as our Charity Partner since our namesake, John Cronin, is a Special Olympic Athlete. He competes in snowshoe, basketball, track, soccer, floor hockey and bowling. The Special Olympics offer nurturing socialization opportunities for their athletes. The experience of playing on a team and learning to depend and work with teammates is as valuable for them as it is any athlete.
We have three Special Olympic athletes working in our organization: Liam, John and Andrew. Their sense of teamwork, their ability to manage their time, their willingness to train hard for a future goal and their strong sense of commitment make them terrific employees who make important contributions to John’s Crazy Socks.
The Special Olympics helps more than just the athletes. Parents and family get to watch and cheer as these athletes rise to heights no one may have imagined. John’s older brother, James, has coached basketball. He may have benefited more from this experience than the athletes. He learned the empathy to understand autistic players and became more sensitive to differences as well as developed strategies for working with a diverse group. These are skills that will continue to serve him well as he goes on in his life.
We cheered for Liam as he competed in Austria and celebrated him upon his return. We are fortunate to have Liam working with us and we love what the Special Olympics has done for Liam, John, Andrew and all the athletes and families affiliated with the program.