Inclusive Sports and Unified Teams can promote the human rights of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Stephen and Linda Coston are the embodiment of what the Special Olympics stands for. This married couple live in Montvale, New Jersey, are both highly decorated Special Olympics Athletes and have furthered the Special Olympics movement by competing and winning at a format for other Amateur Olympics called the State Games of America. Their many achievements have shown to all who knows them, that Inclusive Sports and Unified Teams can promote the human rights of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Stephen has always held the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who was the founder and the original chairperson of the Special Olympics movement in the highest regard. Her statement in one of her speeches in the 1987 Special Olympics World Summer Games spoke loud and clear to a young Stephen Coston at the time. He heard her declare, "The right you have to play in any playing field, you earned it!"
Stephen Coston and his wife Linda decided to put that statement to the test and make that vision become a reality. As decorated Special Olympics Athletes in Bowling, Volleyball, Bocce and Softball, they went to another Olympics event called the State Games of America. This took a lot of courage, hard work and skill on this particular event to achieve the Special Olympics movement and vision of the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver stood for in expanding Inclusion Sports and Unified Teams.
The moment of truth happened at the 2009 State Games of America in Colorado Springs, Colorado. As a Special Olympics Athlete representative, Stephen bowled his highest game of a lifetime, scoring a 290 game with 11 strikes in a row. Shocking 200 amateur bowlers and viewers from various states in the USA. For this accomplishment, Stephen Coston was awarded a trophy plaque by the United States Bowling Congress. A high honor ever awarded to a Special Olympics Athlete! He and his wife also won Silver Medals in the 5 stepladder finals.
Stephen Coston mastery in bowling continued again in the 2011 State Games of America in San Diego, California. He clinched a Gold Medal with a 213 game performance. His wife Linda Coston did superb earning a Silver and Bronze Medal. The couple received a standing ovation from the crowd that day! Stephen and Linda's accomplishment in the playing field outside the Special Olympics realm, contributed to the major breakthrough and the birth of Inclusion and Unified Sports, that special needs and regular athletes compete as teams or individually together in other amateur sports.
This Unified team concept took on national awareness at the 2014 Special Olympics National Games in New Jersey and in the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, California. An eloquent speaker and writer. Stephen Coston written and did television editorial and wrote numerous letters to the State and Federal Government on improving higher education programs for Special Needs Students. Stephen Coston is a Global Messenger graduate of the Special Olympics Athlete Leadership program and served in the Special Olympics Athletes Congress. They both have sacrificed a lot and spent their hard earned money to do this worthy cause in what they believe in. They did this without any sponsors or any grants.
Stephen and Linda Coston are truly inspirational. It is with great pleasure to know and coach with these dynamic couple. The younger special needs children look up to them as role models and icons. I along with many other coaches in Special Olympics, feel that Stephen and Linda Coston are outstanding people for this story to be heard.
Mary Eng. Special Olympics Coach of Lyndhurst Recreation Center in Lyndhurst, New Jersey