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Bond Between Student and Coach Transforms Life of Special Olympics Swimmer at YMCA

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Sam Kasallis (left), with Coach Tom March of the North Suburban YMCA, poses with the medals he earned at the Special Olympics Illinois District Swim Meet on March 19. Sam went on to compete in the Illinois Summer Games, earning a silver medal in the 25M Freestyle.
Less than a year ago, Sam Kasallis could barely dog-paddle. At age 15, the Deerfield, Illinois resident with autism had tried regular swim lessons, but his special needs were too challenging for most instructors. Fast forward to today, and Sam is a strong swimmer who just won a silver medal in the 2016 Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games. Sam’s achievements grew out of a special coach-student relationship at the North Suburban YMCA. Instructor Tom March, an expert in helping individuals with autism, worked with Sam in private lessons. As Sam’s skills progressed, Coach March encouraged him to join the Y’s “Flying Turtles” Special Olympics team. Sam overcame all obstacles to earn gold and silver medals at the Special Olympics District Meet on March 19. At the June Illinois Summer games, the Flying Turtles brought home 10 gold medals and two silvers – including one earned by Sam in the 25M Freestyle.

About Me:

Carolyn Gessner of Creative Marketing Associates in Northfield, Illinois, represents the North Suburban YMCA. For over 45 years, the NSYMCA has served families in a 15-city region north of Chicago, Illinois. For more information, visit http://nsymca.org.


Visit the North Suburban YMCA website