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Ravena swimmer takes home the gold


By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

Ravena swimmer Rebecca Shook, center, was honored by the Coeymans Town Council for her achievements in this year’s Special Olympics in Florida. Courtesy of Candace McHugh

COEYMANS — Rebecca Shook, the village of Ravena ambassador, used grit, determination and a relentless drive to be the best swimmer she could be — and then proved it at the Special Olympics in Florida this summer.

Shook took home the gold — and more — at the 2022 Special Olympics competition.

And to get there, Shook had to not only excel in the pool, but come up with the funds to cover $2,000 in expenses for her trip. To do that, she spent months designing, creating and then selling bracelets.

The town of Coeymans honored Shook for her achievements in the pool and beyond with a Certificate of Achievement, presented at the July 14 meeting of the town council.

“You may remember seeing our village ambassador, Rebecca Shook, selling one-of-a-kind handmade bracelets at local farmers markets and craft fairs to help raise money for her trip to the 2022 Special Olympics in Orlando, Florida,” Town Supervisor George McHugh said. “She worked tirelessly, selling her bracelets for just $2 each to reach her goal of $2,000.”

Shook not only met her fundraising goal, she surpassed it.

“Rebecca exceeded her goal and raised closer to $4,000,” McHugh said. “She used the additional funds to help her teammates with their travel expenses, which I am not surprised at, knowing Rebecca.”

Shook traveled to Florida and competed against some of the best swimmers in the Special Olympics, and came out on top.

“Rebecca swam to victory in the 2022 Special Olympics and took home a gold medal in the 100 meter backstroke with a time of one minute and 56 seconds, which was 10 seconds faster than the next competitor,” McHugh said. “Rebecca also took a silver medal in the 4×50 medley relay with a final time of three minutes and 38 seconds, and fifth place in the 500 meter freestyle with a final time of 11 minutes and 47 seconds.”

The town council presented Shook with a Certificate of Achievement honoring her accomplishments.

“Rebecca is a shining example of what it means to be a teammate and a competitor, and the Coeymans Town Board is incredibly proud of her hard work and dedication, and we cannot wait to see some of [her] future achievements,” McHugh said.

Shook thanked the board.

“The last time I received an award like this was when I competed in the state competition in Ithaca,” Shook said. “I came home with two golds and a silver from that weekend.”

“My first gold medal was from swimming 1,000 meters, which is pretty wet,” Shook quipped.

The Special Olympics is a global organization “dedicated to promoting respect, inclusion and acceptance of people with intellectual disabilities,” according to the group’s website. It got its start when Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded the first Camp Shriver in the early 1960s, which evolved into the Special Olympics. Shriver was the sister of President John F. Kennedy.

The organization has since grown to include competitions for 5 million Special Olympics athletes ages 8 and up from more than 170 countries, where they compete in sports from swimming to basketball, track and field, gymnastics, badminton, bowling, cycling, softball, tennis and more.

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