‘He won four gold world medals,’ after special needs coaches make program for adults with disabilities

Local News

MCALLEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — For any athlete accomplishing their goals is a must but that can be challenging for some with disabilities after graduation. Two local coaches are paving the way for adults with disabilities to continue their passion for fitness after they say they noticed there wasn’t a lot offered for them.

Stephanie King and Lilia Cuellar are coaches and co-owners of Special Fitness located in McAllen and said she started the program after noticing there weren’t a lot of opportunities for adults with disabilities after graduating. 

“There’s obviously a lot of gyms in the valley. I don’t think any gym or trainer not that they don’t have the capability but I don’t think they have the proper training to work with somebody with special needs to teach them powerlifting,” said Cuellar. 

King said she hopes the program can be a positive and big influence on the community.

“This is something I wanted to venture off and try with and do with my business partner coach Lilia and see if we can provide something good for the special needs community in the valley,” said King. 

They help a wide range of individuals with disabilities and ages.

22-year-old Roberto Rios who has down syndrome continues to follow his passion which he said makes him feel good. Rios competed at Welker Engineering WABDL World Championship at Phoenix, Arizona on November 3rd where he won 4 gold medals.

“Now this is amazing because he bench pressed 148 pounds breaking a state and world record. King goes on to say “and then he went on to deadlift 192.7 pounds breaking the Texas state record, so he has four gold medals.”

King said he has also inspired the people around him at the UFC gym in McAllen when they train. 

“We’ve had a lot of them come up and want to help, they want to volunteer because they just love seeing these individuals do their best,” said King. 

Beyond the joy of winning trophies, South Texas Health System’s Physical Therapist, Joanna Garcia said physical activity for all people with disabilities has a long-lasting impact for those with disabilities. 

“They are also at greater risk for hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes. So physical activity does help them improve their muscle strength and their cardiovascular performance,” said Garcia

Both of the owners hope to expand their program to help all people in any range of disability or age feel included and perform at their best. As for, Roberto he is taking a break from competing after the worlds but his coach said they’re already mapping his next goal to accomplish in 2022.

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