Cazenovia Ryan Goldacker, a graduate of Cazenovia High School and currently a student at Cazenovia College, is one of two Central New Yorkers that will be competing in the Special Olympics’ national competition, the U.S.A. Games, from June 14 to June 20 in Princeton, N.J.
Goldacker, 29, started training for the Special Olympics when he was 8 years old, but began to compete when he was 12. In his first Special Olympics, he participated in the swimming program. Eventually, he moved on to alpine skiing for the winter Olympics when he was 13; powerlifting for the summer Olympics at 19; and golf for the fall Olympics at 20. Although Goldacker said his favorite sport to compete in is skiing, he will be competing in powerlifting for the 2014 U.S.A. Games at the College of New Jersey.
Goldacker, who has Down syndrome, is from a family of five children and attended Cazenovia High School, where he played on the high school golf team until graduating in 2004. Since graduating, Goldacker has taken criminology, psychology and sociology courses at Cazenovia College. He has also worked at the Cazenovia College Equine Center for the past 10 years.
“I work there,” Goldacker said. “Taking care of the horses. I feed them hay and grain; I clean stalls, give them water. Before [working], I started lessons.”
Goldacker started playing sports at 8 years old, said Lynn Goldacker, Ryan’s mother.
“He started swimming and at the same time was playing ice hockey in a normal ice hockey league; but because he wasn’t fast enough as the kids in the typical hockey league, I decided that maybe skiing would be better because the whole team didn’t depend on whether he was fast or not. So he took up skiing,” Lynn said.
Ryan’s love of powerlifting started when he was 19 years old.