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WYOMING – How excited is Gary Endecott to be representing the United States in the Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017? By his own admission, he couldn’t stop jumping up and down. His ski instructor at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort remembers driving Endecott home that day. “He was very fired up,” Tom Haigh said.
Endecott grew up in Kemmerer, Wyoming. His family moved Endecott to Jackson Hole where he would be better equipped to step out on his own with the help of social service programs like Community Entry Services, a nonprofit organization that works with adults with disabilities in Teton County, Wyoming. His guardian is his grandmother who lives in Bondurant where Gary spends a lot of time ranching with the family in the summer.
“CES provides support when he needs it but for the most part Gary is a rock star,” said Lindsay Long, who was the director of CES when Endecott first got the news he qualified for the World Winter Games in Austria this March 14-25. “I got a call asking if Gary would be interested in going to the World Games. I told them they couldn’t have picked a better person.”
Haigh has been a personal instructor of sorts for Endecott. He’s worked with Wyoming Special Olympics since 2004. Haigh admits he’ll be one of many rooting for the ski racer this month.
“If I were to define my relationship with Gary, I’m a superfan. His enthusiasm, his passion, his desire to help others around him, has turned me into a cheerleader.”
With assistance from CES, Endecott has secured an apartment where he lives on his own. CES also helped him land a job with The Liquor Store (TLS) in Jackson where he stocks shelves. TLS owner Stephan Abrams said, “Everybody can overcome adversity. And Gary has certainly done that throughout his life. He’s an inspiration to us all.”
Carolyn Worth, who is now the director at CES, called Endecott a model Special Olympics athlete. “He is always helping out everyone around him. He’s the first to lend a hand. We are really proud of Gary and we’ll definitely be rooting for him, that’s for sure,” she said.
CES is coordinating with Special Olympics to get Endecott airfare, accommodations, and a coach in Austria. They have also been making sure the alpine athlete has had plenty of practice runs during his time off work.
As for Endecott, he couldn’t be prouder to represent his country and his home state. “It means a lot. Representing the United States, representing Wyoming,” he said.