Metro-East Living

Belleville athlete stretches boundaries at World Special Olympics in Austria

Belleville East student to compete in Austria Special Olympics

Danielle Lanxon was chosen to compete in snowshoeing during the 2017 Austria Special Olympics World Games.
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Danielle Lanxon was chosen to compete in snowshoeing during the 2017 Austria Special Olympics World Games.

It took Danielle Lanxon a week of sleeping 12 hours a night just to get back to normal after the World Special Olympics in Austria, her dad said.

“It was hard on the kids,” Scott Lanxon said.

Danielle brought home silver and bronze medals and a fifth place ribbon, in snow shoeing events. She will be honored by Mayor Mark Eckert at the Belleville City Council meeting Monday. Danielle, 19, lives in Belleville with her parents, Alice and Scott Lanxon.

While the medals are nice and her parents proud, what they really appreciate are the intangible skills Danielle picked up on the way to and while in Austria. “Stretching her boundaries,” they repeatedly said, of making friends on her own, navigating a new country with people she had just met and getting a nasty cold on the second day of the trip. She came through it all with smiles.

“We did not have any kind of eyes on her for about a week — it was kind of unnerving,” Alice said by phone.

Danielle has traveled for Special Olympics before, and has participated since she was 8. She has been snowshoeing for about three years.

“I had reassurances from teachers and coaches that she was ready,” Alice said. “I didn’t want my anxiety to hold her back. ... I think she was proud of herself, and we were proud of her, too.”

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Danielle Lanxon shows off her medals from the World Special Olympics in Austria. Derik Holtmann dholtmann@bnd.com

“These opportunities don’t come around every day. ... We did our best to prepare her physically and pushing her to be more independent,” Alice said.

Danielle attends the Bridges program near Belleville West to help prepare her for independent living. She cleans tables at The EDGE and helps with some light cleaning at King’s House, a retreat center in Belleville, as well through the Bridges program.

“I love gardening” with my mom, Danielle said. She also enjoys keeping in touch with her new friends from the Olympics.

I had reassurances from teachers and coaches that she was ready. I didn’t want my anxiety to hold her back. ... I think she was proud of herself, and we were proud of her, too.

Alice Lanxon about her daughter Danielle Lanxon

She said she wasn’t nervous at all at the games, even at the lineup for her three events.

But it was hard at the end.

“I couldn’t breathe. Run as fast as I could ... I still made a good time,” she said.

Her best event is usually the 200-meter individual, Scott said. But Danielle got strep throat on the second day of the trip and was still suffering despite the team doctor’s work. She earned a fifth-place ribbon in that race. Her 400-meter individual race got her a bronze medal.

And with three other women — new friends from Colorado, North Dakota and Oregon — Danielle brought home a silver medal for the 400-meter relay.

The trip to Austria, with all of Danielle’s expenses paid for by the Special Olympics, wasn’t all work for her. Athletes were treated to several tours of the country, and had plenty of time to get to know those from other countries.

“Me and my teammates came to castles ... met people and made friends,” Danielle said.

The world could learn something from the Special Olympics, Scott said. People from every nation were kind and welcoming, like the time he accidentally got onto the wrong bus filled with Egyptians to get to an event.

“Oh, stay on,” they told him. “We’ll take you to the right place.”

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