Katrina Roberts, 18, of Great Falls, Mont., a senior at C.M. Russell High School, has been helping young athletes with disabilities in the Special Olympics program since she was 11 years old, and in recent years has assumed leadership positions in her state’s Special Olympics organization. “I may have started Special Olympics because of my brother’s intellectual disability, but I continued because of the joy it gave me to know how many lives I was changing,” said Katrina. “I saw there were so many people out there who don’t have a voice. I want to give them a voice.”
As a unified partner for Special Olympics, Katrina mentors athletes in golf during the summer and downhill skiing in the winter. Especially significant for Katrina has been her relationship with a deaf athlete, who suggested she learn sign language so that they could communicate better. Katrina is now fluent in American Sign Language and the two are able to have “beautiful conversations,” she said. In addition to mentoring, Katrina serves on a Special Olympics youth committee that involves management meetings, travel throughout the state for various events, and recruiting other students to volunteer for the organization. For the past four years, Katrina also has fostered kittens for an animal rescue organization and helps out at its facility every week.