Special Olympian brings Silver medal back home

A Silver medal from the Special Olympics USA Games is in Butler County.

Dannika “Nika” Swagler and Unified partner Molly Grimm received the Silver medal for women’s golf, representing Team Ohio last week at the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle.

The competition played at Willows Run Golf Course consisted of three, nine-hole rounds and Swagler and Grimm shot 167, 10 shots off the Gold-medal score posted by Stacy Brown and Patricia Mathews from Texas.

FIRST REPORT: Competing ‘quite an honor’ for Special Olympian from Butler County

Swagler and Grimm have played golf together for two years in Butler County’s Special Olympics program. Swagler was the only Special Olympian from Butler County.

Swagler and her mother, Mary Swagler, returned to Hamilton Sunday morning, then she joined other Butler County Special Olympics golfers at Fairfield North Trace Golf Course. She was an instant celebrity, her mother said. Swagler autographed golf balls, her mother said.

Mary Swagler, 75, called traveling with her adopted daughter and watching her compete in the Special Olympics “an experience of a lifetime.”

Then she added: “It couldn’t have been any better.”

She said the Special Olympians were “so encouraging” to each other throughout the competition. When Nika Swagler, 30, finished playing golf, she watched her Team Ohio teammates, her mother said. Team Ohio won 45 medals.

“You celebrate the wins and cry during the losses,” said Mary Swagler, a longtime coordinator of Butler County Special Olympics.

Besides competing, the Olympians walked during the Opening Ceremonies, made new friends from other states, watched a Seattle Mariners game and also traded state pins and state shirts.

Swagler, a person with intellectual disabilities, graduated from Hamilton High School’s Special Education program in 2007, completed Project Search, a post high school work training program at Atrium Medical Center, and works full-time in the warehouse at Thyssen Krupp Bilstein.

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