BREVARD COUNTY — With Special Olympics Florida canceling its 2020 State Summer Games, athletes are finding new ways to stay healthy as gyms remain closed.

Coaches Joe Luther and Chris Hollyfield work to empower athletes with mental and physical health disabilities through their nonprofit Just Right Living.

Together, Coach Joe and Coach Chris are building up the Palm Bay Powerlifters team with confidence, trust and lasting friendships so that these athletes can go into the community proud of who they are.

Currently, Coach Joe is working exclusively with two athletes whose goals are to be ready for the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games that are coming to Orlando.

The Special Olympics offers year-round training and competitions to athletes worldwide, and is the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities and physical disabilities.

By visiting these athletes’ homes, Coach Joe can provide personalized training and support that can otherwise be more challenging to accomplish by video.

“I was worried Coach Joe will leave... I didn’t want Anytime Fitness to close,” said Timothy Duquette, a Special Olympics athlete working with Just Right Living. “I love when Coach Joe works with me.”

“I started taking Timothy to the Vitamin Shoppe since things opened up,” Coach Joe added. “That’s one of the things I’ve been trying to incorporate in practices, is introducing them to try new foods, because I want to create besides just training the education around how to be healthy.”

Mr. Duquette participated in the 2019 Special Olympics Fall Classic, bringing home a gold medal in powerlifting and beating his personal record at 127.5 pounds. He was also recognized as the Inspirational Athlete of the Year.

Josh White is another athlete who has just begun his workout routine with Coach Joe at home. His Palm Bay Powerlifters team has nicknamed Josh “The Hulk” because “the Hulk comes out of him” when they lift weights, according to Coach Joe.

“I want to be like John Cena,” Josh said. “It feels good when I lift weights. I want to bench-press 150 pounds.”

Both Josh and Timothy miss the everyday interactions with their fellow athletes, where they attend team outings, fundraisers and practice.

One of the ways athletes can improve their health and fitness is by following the Special Olympics Fit 5 plan, which encourages athletes to exercise five days a week, eat five fruits and vegetables per day and drink five water bottles per day.

“We’d like to bring awareness to Just Right Living to use that to bring coaches and trainers out to these guys all throughout the county, so we can get as many training and active as possible at home,” Coach Joe said. “We’re all stronger together.”

Coach Chris added, “We like to do character building and give them confidence so that they can be comfortable in their own skin. I want them to walk six-foot tall with no hesitation, and say ‘This is who I am.’”

For more information about Just Right Living and the Palm Bay Powerlifters, visit https://justrightlivingbrevard.com.

Associate Managing Editor

I have been a Viera resident for 15 years and a writer my whole life. I love to travel when the opportunity presents itself, as well as try new things.

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