ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Q&A with Mitch Bonar, Abby Abel’s partner in the National Youth Activation Committee

MITCH BONAR / SUBMITTED PHOTO

MITCH BONAR / SUBMITTED PHOTO

15min

MITCH BONAR / SUBMITTED PHOTO
MITCH BONAR // SUBMITTED PHOTO

Why did you first get involved with Special Olympics?

I first got involved because I used to be bullied a lot, and I usually didn’t fit in with a lot of people, so it allowed me to fit in other people with similar abilities to compete, and I was really not a part of sports until that happened. I have been a Special Olympics athlete for 6 years.

Why did you decide to keep participating?

I continued participating in Special Olympics because I figured out these people weren’t different from me–they face challenges like me, and we all conquer our challenges together.

How did you and Abby meet?

We just met one time, and we got to go to the WWE wrestling thing downtown but me and Abby decided to submit an idea to get on the committee because we felt that when we were in New Jersey, we loved all the people we met and all the support we got, and we felt like me and the committee members were pretty much the duo of Indiana that everybody knows, and we work so well together, even though she’s super quiet; I’m the talker, usually, so our strengths are opposites, but they’re just like batteries because when we work together, there’s a lot of crazy stuff that could happen.

How did you feel when you two got accepted?

I was with the Noblesville football team because I was the manager this year for the Noblesville football team. When I first heard about it I was really excited, and I walked in, hugged my coach, hugged all my friends that were players (and) put on my hat. They were so jealous because I knew that I had been waiting for this for a long time, and they were really proud, and I feel like it went great. My mom didn’t even know, and neither did I, so there was a lot of pressure, but it was worth it.

What idea did you propose for the World Games?

Me and Abby want to work together on this; we’ve been working on it. My sister’s going to jump in–her name’s Tori–and my friend (CHS junior) Molly McGuire is going to jump in. Athletes lose their connections after high school–their good friends and close friends, kind of like what’s happening to me and Abby because she’s going to college next year–so what we want to do is that we want to think of a new way so that we can stay in contact and be like a unified homecoming or banquet to get everyone together.

If you do get accepted to the World Games, what are you looking forward to the most?

I am looking forward to meeting all the new people and the different people from different countries and learning about unified sports from different countries’ perspectives.

What do you enjoy most about serving on the National YAC and why?

The National Youth Activation Committee has allowed me to speak my voice freely and just this year, I followed this idea for a unified baton because they just had (Play Unified) balls and stuff … so it’s gonna be really cool. There’s also need to exchange leadership a lot and being able to learn from different perspectives from other states. (So, Play Unified) has all these balls and stuff, but I said, “My sport doesn’t include one, so can we do something else?” And they did my idea. I’m really excited.

What have you contributed so far as a member?

I’ve contributed a lot of hope for all those people, not just those people, but the people around the committee and such. (For) Indiana as a community, I feel that I’ve made a big impact and just making a difference in a lot of peoples’ lives.

What do you anticipate to do in the future?

For the future, I want to go to college, and I still want to work in Special Olympics International office. I want to continue what I do, and I also want to be a coach for unified track at our school.

If you could plan an activity to happen in the future, what would you plan?

I would plan to get unified basketball started because I know this is already out there, but we’re a basketball state, and most of the people are wondering when it’s going to start and stuff. Or I would work hard and try to get something started with Abby at Purdue or do something to keep me busy.

If you had to tell any student what you think is the most rewarding thing about helping special needs students, what would it be?

The most rewarding thing is when you get to know us, we’re not as different as you are. We all have different abilities, being able to do different stuff. We all have the same goal but when you’re working together and teaching someone, it changes lives–and you don’t know how far or how close that would be because our lives changed because of a couple of people, and these peoples’ lives could be changed by you to make a difference.

What additional comments or thoughts would you like to share with readers?

I want you to know that even though me and Abby go to two opposite schools (and) even though we’re harsh competitors on and off the court, we’re still close friends, and Noblesville and Carmel are like brother and sister schools now because of what me and Abby have done for our schools to make sure that every person is treated OK.

Click here to read the original Q&A with senior Abby Abel.

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