Patti Connors has a can-do attitude and a smile for everyone she passes. She’s a hometown hero in Woodstock, N.B., with a list of accolades that would impress any sports fanatic.
“I just do so good, I follow the rules and do what I’m told, but when I start to get ready to run and do the 400 or 200 I just keep my head up and I look just straight and I don’t listen to the audience. They’re saying ‘Go, Patti, go.’ I don’t pay attention, I just focus,” laughs Connors as she runs track in a pair of snowshoes.
Connors is gearing up for the upcoming Special Olympics World Games. She’s one of 163 Canadian athletes heading to the Abu Dhabi games next month where she’ll compete in track and shot put.
The 53-year-old has been competing as a provincial athlete since the 1980s. Bowling is just one of her strong suits in addition to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Sporting her Team Canada swag, Connors is already in the right headspace to land a spot on the podium.
“I do my very best out there and I follow the rules and I listen to the coaches and I do what I am told when I’m supposed to,” says Connors.
That attitude has led her to countless provincial, national and world games. She was even named the Special Olympics Canada Female Athlete of the Year in 1999 and received the Dr. Frank Hayden Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.
Those who support her say they can’t wait to see what she does next.
“She’s a bright spot of the week most of the time, as you can see her smile really lights up people’s day,” says B.J. Hamilton, owner of Woodstock Bowlacade.
WATCH: Lethbridge figure skater’s golden moment
Connors is also the first Olympian to be inducted into the Woodstock Sports Hall of Fame.
“Patti is a role model to all of the other athletes because of her accomplishments, good manners and her desire and dedication to be involved in our Special Olympics family. She makes me smile,” says Coach Evelyn Kitchen, the Regional Coordinator of Western Valley Special Olympics.
That smile is rather contagious as Connors sends us off with her signature move, the thumbs up.
Connors is competing at the Special Olympics World Games from March 14 to 21.