Lebanon teen Whitney Lackey has returned from the Special Olympics games with a few medals to her name.
Lackey, 17, who was diagnosed with the rare disease tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital when she was just two months old, competed at the Tennessee Special Olympics State Games in Nashville in May and also represented Tennessee at the national Special Olympics USA Games last week.
This year the USA Games, which only happen every four years, were held in New Jersey and took place June 14-21, hosting more than 3,500 athletes from all across the country competing in 16 different sports.
Lackey, who is an avid fan of the outdoors and enjoys all sports from basketball to baseball to swimming and bowling, participated in bocce at this year’s event.
Bocce is a sport similar to bowling, but balls are thrown and the sport is done outdoors on grass, or sometimes on sand.
Previously she has competed in bocce at the state games, which then qualified her to compete nationally this year.
As a result, in this year’s national competition Lackey took home a bronze medal in the doubles event and a silver medal in team bocce with Team Tennessee. She just missed medaling in the singles competition, coming in fourth place.
In an effort to raise awareness for the games and TSC, Lackey is one of four athletes suffering from TSC featured in a “TSC Road to the Special Olympics” blog. She has checked in multiple times, journaling her thoughts, preparations and accomplishments leading up to and following the big events.
“The Games were really fun, and I’m so glad I got to travel to [New Jersey] and represent Team Tennessee in bocce,” Lackey said Monday. “This was such a cool experience, and I think people with TSC like me should think about participating in Special Olympics or taking part in other activities that make them happy.
“I’m so proud of my team and all of the other Special Olympics athletes who competed at the USA Games, and I can’t wait to compete in a Special Olympics event again soon!”
For more information on TSC or to follow Lackey, check tscathletes.tumblr.com.
TSC is an uncommon, multisystem genetic disease that causes different resulting disorders and symptoms like seizures, cognitive disabilities, behavior problems and potentially life-threatening tumors in vital organs; and in Whitney’s case, that includes cognitive delays and tumors growing in both kidneys. She is one of the estimated 50,000 people in the United States living with TSC, which is the leading cause of autism and epilepsy.