Twelve years ago, Stephanie Price stood on a world stage, sporting the emblems of Special Olympics USA as a swimmer in the Special Olympics World Games Athens 2011. From a small town in western Arkansas, known for its Christmas traditions and Ozark artisans, she traveled to make a name for herself. Twelve years later, her sister, Amy Price, seeks to live up to that family name, as she prepares to compete in athletics at the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023.
“I’ve been working to get here because she’s my idol,” said Amy. “I want to live up to her expectations because I try to be like her. We practically do everything together.”
The two work together at Abilities Unlimited of Fort Smith, Inc., a non-profit serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Monday through Friday, Amy works seven hours each day gluing cardboard pieces, which are used to package oven doors for transit. Her work family, as she calls them, recognized Amy for her selection to the Special Olympics USA delegation.
“I know everybody at work and they know me,” explained Amy. “It’s just like you have two families. You have your house family and you have your work family. Family just helps you out, they help me out when I have problems or if I am struggling.”
Her first trip outside the country, Amy was anxious ahead of such a long flight, which would carry her such a long distance from her family. More than a decade ago, she recalls worrying about her sister’s World Games experience. Lacking the technology of today, Amy awaited her return, only to be greeted with stories of a life-changing nature, detailing the people and sights of a place far away.
On June 12, Amy arrived in Berlin, Germany with the Special Olympics USA delegation. From Berlin, the group traveled by bus to partake in the World Games Host Town Program. As Host Town locations for Special Olympics USA, Bremen and Bremerhaven are among 200 Host Towns selected to welcome Special Olympics delegations from across the world. Until her return to Berlin on June 15, Amy will learn what life is like for those who call Bremen home.
“I love it, there’s so much love going around,” she reflected. “I’m still getting used to everything, like the time zone, I’m getting used to the food. I tried something new.”
That something new was a bratwurst, a type of German sausage. Presenting Special Olympics USA with a taste of their home, Special Olympics Bremen hosted a welcome dinner on June 11, complete with presentations by local government officials and Program representatives. Absorbing the culture from the locals themselves, athletes returned to their hotel rooms that evening. Their first night was a lesson in acclimation to the nuances of German living.
“I didn’t know how to turn the lights on, I didn’t know how to plug anything in,” laughed Amy. “I was looking at different channels. I already knew there wouldn’t be anything in English, so I flipped through channels until one looked appealing. I landed on Animal Planet, so I just watched the animals.”
For her first time outside of the United States, her sense of self-sufficiency proved stronger than ever. The youngest of six siblings, Amy quickly learned the value of having a solid backbone.
“I’m a tough cookie,” said Amy. “I was the toughest out of the girls. The boys picked on me the most because they knew I could take it. I always tell them that my sarcasm is my greatest defense. If you don’t have thick skin in this world, you won’t make it.”
In the Price family, thick skin appears to be genetic. Stephanie and Amy share that trait, one they both clothe in their respective Special Olympics USA uniforms, past and present.