Kansas City resident Andy Martinez has just returned from Austria where he competed in the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games, March 14-25.
Martinez, 32, earned a bronze medal in a snowshoe competition and several awards in other events.
Martinez has been employed at Vocational Services, Inc., in Liberty for 10 years and is well known for his athletic talents. He previously competed in the World Special Olympics in Idaho in 2009. Staff members at VSI first gave Martinez his nickname, “The Snowman,” for his ability to run in conditions that make it hard for others to even walk.
“We’re very proud of him,” noted VSI Executive Director Randy Hylton. “We’re proud of him and his family.”
Martinez is the son of Platte County residents Kathy and Mike Martinez, who accompanied him on the Olympic trip.
“Andy was a great team member,” Kathy Martinez said. “He made friends, supported his teammates and was well respected in the snowshoe group of Team USA.” He competed in some of the toughest divisions in the sport: the 200 and 400-meter sprints, and the 4X400 relay. He returned with the bronze medal, a fourth place and a seventh place ribbon.
The family made their home in the Northland when Mike Martinez retired from a career with the U.S. Army. They had lived in many areas but chose the Northland because of its high quality services for residents with developmental disabilities.
“Organizations like VSI and the Platte County Board (of Services) are just great,” Kathy noted. “Andy comes home from work every day, and he’s just happy. He will not take a day off. The only time he complains is when he doesn’t have work.”
The Austria trip was memorable for several reasons. The family endured seven plane changes, traveled through strange cities and dealt with multiple forms of currency. Throughout it all, Andy made friends.
“We are so proud of Andy that we could burst with it,” Kathy concluded. “This has been a life-changing event for him. He will remember it forever.”