Nothing has been easy but nothing is slowing down for Nikota Easterling. Nothing was stopping her from a trip to Austria for the Special Olympics World Winter Games.
“This year has been a little more difficult without snow,” says Nikota, “I’ve been out once.”
“It’s very exciting and not very many people get to do it,” says her mom, Brenda Easterling.
Nikota is one of six athletes from Michigan to make Team USA. At last year’s State Games, any athletes that earned a gold medal were entered into a drawing for a chance to join TEAM USA. Nikota was picked to represent her country in cross country skiing.
“My dad came up to my room and said you’re going to Austria and I was like ‘What?’” says Nikota.
Once the shock wore off, she now had a year to train and raise money for the trip. Fundraisers all summer and skiing all winter or so she thought.
“Well deserved she’s a hard worker and overcome a lot of obstacles and training even with no snow,” says Brenda.
“It’s really difficult especially when it’s one of those sports that you need to you know have snow,” says Nikota, “It’s not like snowboarding where they can make the snow.”
Special Olympians probably know more about overcoming adversity more than any of us would know, so Nikota pushed on. A week spent in Vermont for Team USA training gave her some snow time the State Winter Games, where she won two golds and a bronze, got her some competition before the final preparations had to be made.
“Fun, busy year. Lots of fundraising. Her siblings have been helping,” says Brenda, “Lots of family and friend support now it’s been a lot of packing and last minute details.”
Nikota and her team left for Europe last weekend. A week of sightseeing in Austria awaited them before competition began.
“I know they are a lot like Germany, they have a lot of bread, a lot of sausages,” says Nikota, “I know they have a lot of mountains and they have very good chocolate very good.”
Saturday’s Opening Ceremonies kicks it all off, then it’s a week of competition Nikota will never forget and a chance to win a medal for everyone back home.
“It’s a little bit of both but I’m mostly going there to have fun,” says Nikota.
The Opening Ceremonies are shown on WZZM Saturday at 3 p.m. Daily highlights of the world games will be shown on ESPN and ABC throughout the week.