With one blazing run, Brandy Goodson etched her name into Special Olympics lore.
The Fallon native won the 100-meter gold medal at the national meet in Princeton, N.J., and added a pair of fourth-place finishes in the 800 and 4x100 relay.
Goodson ran her way to gold with a time of 16.79 seconds, while she clocked a mark of 4:04.66 in the 800 and the relay team came in at 1:26.95.
“I had this girl behind me … she was right on my tail,” Goodson said. “It was a lot of fun hearing all those people cheer for you.”
Former Fallon and current Fernley resident Bianca Lang also competed and took fourth in the 100 (23.17) and fifth in the 200 (55.07). She also teamed with Goodson in the 4x100. In all, Nevada was represented by 14 athletes.
Goodson, 22, suffered a traumatic brain injury when she was 6 weeks old and has been competing with the Special Olympics for the past six years. Although she has issues with short-term memory loss, Goodson functions at a high level.
She has held several jobs and currently volunteers at the Churchill County Senior Center.
Although she was not selected to compete in the Special Olympics’ World competition next year in Los Angeles, Goodson is gearing up for another season. In September, she will begin bowling practice and will resume her track career in the spring.
Competing, Goodson said, allows her to set and reach goals in addition to being part of a team. While in high school, Goodson joined the Fallon Special Olympics team then moved to the Fernley squad.
She competes in bowling and track, although dozens of sports are offered for Special Olympians. Now, Goodson and her team have their sights set on the state event at the University of Nevada, Reno.
In New Jersey, the athletes resided in the Princeton University dorms, were shuttled by police escort to their venues and also took in a dinner aboard a yacht sailing down the Hudson River in full view of the Statue of Liberty.
The venues, meanwhile, were packed as more than 70,000 spectators viewed the games. Another hobby for the athletes, meanwhile, was trading state pins.
“That was awesome,” she said. “It was so fun and I made a whole bunch of new friends. I got wiped out (of pins) on the first night.”
The weeklong event drew competitors from every state creating lifelong memories for the athletes. In addition, thanks to nation-wide fundraising, the athletes were provided airfare, uniforms, meals, lodging, entertainment and more throughout the week.
“Their fundraisers are important,” Sharon Goodson said. “You can see why they do these fundraisers. It’s all paid for.”
The Nevada delegation consists of Fallon, Fernley, Reno, Sparks, Carson City, Elko, Lovelock, Mesquite, Pahrump, Winnemucca, Las Vegas, Henderson and Lassen, even though the city is in California.
The Special Olympics was founded in the 1960s by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of former President John F. Kennedy and mother to Maria Shriver, with the first international Special Olympics held in 1968 in Chicago.
Since it inception, the organization has grown to more than 4.2 million athletes and 70,000 competitions around the world, according to the Special Olympics website.
To register an athlete or volunteer, visit www.specialolympics.org.