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Everyday Heroes: Caleb Guy

Special Olympian

Afternoon sunlight glinted off the surface of Kellogg Creek against a backdrop of red-orange October foliage as Caleb Guy, 20, zipped up his life jacket and climbed into his kayak.

Friends and family cheered from the shore as Guy and the other kayakers raced across the water’s smooth surface. The sense of camaraderie and support is one of the things that draws Guy to the sport.

“What I like most about kayaking is getting to be with my friends,” said Guy.

This upcoming June, Guy, who has Down syndrome, will be halfway across the world competing in the 2023 Special Olympics World Games in Berlin. He is one of only three Georgia residents selected to represent Team USA, and is scheduled to compete in both the 200m singles and 200m tandem kayaking events in Berlin.

Credit: Fresh Take Georgia

Credit: Fresh Take Georgia

“We were thrilled,” Mollie Guy, Caleb’s mother, said of the moment they found out that he would be representing Team USA in the World Games. “We are just so proud of him.”

Caleb Guy has been competing in the Special Olympics since he was 8-years-old in many different sports, including soccer, bowling and basketball. He joined the Cherokee County Special Olympics kayaking team at its inception just two years ago.

Despite having almost no previous kayaking experience, Guy learned quickly and won medals in his first season of competition. He was selected for the World Games after winning a gold medal in tandem and a bronze medal in individual kayaking at the state competition in Macon, GA in 2021.

The Team USA athletes will travel to Texas in November for a training session and to meet their Olympic coaches. The Special Olympics organization is covering the cost of that trip and some of the travel to Berlin, but Guy and his family are raising funds to cover the remainder plus travel expenses for his parents to get to see him compete.

Guy is universally described by his friends and family as outgoing, friendly and joyful. He enjoys spending time with his family, cheering on the Alabama Crimson Tide football team, and listening to his two favorite music groups: Pentatonix and Big Time Rush. He also enjoys singing and has been learning to play piano and guitar for several years.

Dave Martinez, the co-coordinator for Cherokee County Special Olympics, has been Guy’s adaptive physical education teacher since he was 8 years old.

“What’s so great about Caleb is he just has that positive energy; a true reflection of the Special Olympic spirit,” Martinez said. “I think he’s gonna be a great reflection of our delegation when he’s competing for Team USA, and in Berlin with other athletes from all over the world. We’re so proud of him.”

Erin Fox, Caleb Guy’s kayaking coach and the organizer of Crazy Cayakers, a kayaking group for people with disabilities and their families, attributes Guy’s success in kayaking to his hard work and the fact that he listens.

“He is very easy going, he loves to learn, and he is always bringing smiles to everybody’s faces,” said Fox. “Working with him, he really just makes everything super easy.”

Mollie Guy said the community has been extremely supportive, especially since word got out that Caleb is going to the World Games. That support and Caleb Guy’s charm were on display at a recent fundraiser dinner. As raffle ticket winners were called out, Guy was quick with a celebratory fist bump or dance move for each one.

Caleb says that he plans to continue kayaking for “a long time” after the World Games because he enjoys the sport so much. His advice for other Special Olympics athletes is to try their best and “to get better by practicing.”

HOW TO HELP

For more information, visit Caleb’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JCalebGuy/

To make a donation to Caleb and his family ahead of their trip to Berlin, click here.


WE’RE STRONGER TOGETHER: A SPECIAL PROJECT

This place we call home is filled with ordinary people who accomplish extraordinary feats. Their selfless acts make this region so special – and they bring out the best in all of us. With the holidays upon us, we wanted to share their inspiring stories, celebrate their accomplishments, and offer ways that you can help.

Just as the 55 people we’re profiling can’t do it alone, nor can we. That’s why we worked closely with our partners to bring you this collection of uplifting stories.

We hope they leave you feeling inspired and ready to tackle the busy new year that lies ahead. We hope they make you feel more connected to your community or to your neighbors.

And maybe, just maybe, they will motivate you to come up with your own small way to make a big difference in the lives of others.

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