BINGHAMTON (WBNG) – Saturday at Chenango Valley high school was a day for competition and celebration at the Broome Tioga Boces Special Olympics, but it was even more special for two individual athletes.
“It means everything, it is a once in a lifetime experience,” said female Athlete of the Year Melanie Grassi.
“I mean you only probably only get to experience this once,” said male Athlete of the year Chris Beckham.
Melanie Grassi and Chris Beckham were named the 2019 athletes of the year.
“I was honestly shocked that I was athlete of the year because I didn’t expect it,” said Grassi.
I am not big on attention being on myself so I didn’t know what to do with my hands or anything,” said Beckham.
Grassi is a part of the Maine-Endwell training club and there is no sport she hasn’t tried
“Tennis, softball, cross country skiing, track, I am doing the 1500 meter run today and softball throw,” said Grassi.
“She does multiple things and it was nice to have them, they have fun. It is not about winning or losing it is just about getting out there and having fun,” said Vicki Grassi, Melanie’s mother.
Beckham, started with the Boces Panthers 15 years ago and is now a part of the Kirkwood Club
“As he has grown through the years he has become quite the leader and role model for our younger athletes,” said Kirkwood Special Olympics coach Chelsea Hinman.
When asked who has helped Chris the most through those 15 years,
“My coach…she makes us run a lot,’ said Beckham.
Hinman is a Special Olympics coach and has watched Chris grow from the moment he began organized sports.
“It is quite a great accomplishment because you can see from when they started to how far they have come now, the difference between all those years and how they have worked hard and how you have worked hard to support them and how you have taken what you taught them and he has pushed that past any of the limits,” said Hinman.
No matter how accomplished these two are on the field they each have one quality off it that will never be overcome- their heart.
“He just emulates what he transpires with the Special Olympics into his daily life and to any of those he meets, he is always willing to help and he is just a very kind guy all around and we are very proud of him,” said Hinman.
“She is a good girl,” said Vicki Grassi.