My life before Special Olympics was okay, but it really wasn't okay. I played sports, like basketball and softball, but the other girls on my team would always tease me. They'd call me slow and stupid.
My dream has always been to be accepted and included. It came true when I became part of Special Olympics. I found a place to belong to and got to build some self-confidence.
My next dream was to live on my own. When I was living with my Mom, I would spend all day watching TV and sitting on the couch. I didn't want to do that for the rest of my life.
When I told people that I wanted to move out of my Mom's house, they told me that it wasn't possible. They told me I couldn't do it, but I knew in my heart I could do it. When I moved out, people told me that I'd end up right back in my Mom's house. Six years later, I'm still living on my own. I learned how to cook and clean without making myself sick and I even have myself a little job in the cafeteria at a high school.
I wake up every morning appreciating my life today. I'm doing a little bit of everything that I never thought I could do, and that people said I never could. I'm on my own. I am accepted. I am included. I am happy!
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and the Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles 2015 in conjunction with the What's One Thing campaign. In this series six professional and Special Olympics athletes tell a story about a time in their lives when they were told they couldn't, but didn't listen and chased their dreams anyway. To learn more about the World Games coming to Los Angeles in 2015, visit here. To read all posts in the series, visit here.