Leroy goes for gold at the Special Olympics

By Indi Fillery

Marketing & Communications Coordinator

In October 2022, Leroy Sassine will be jet-setting across the nation to attend his second National Special Olympics, this time in Tasmania. An avid basketball player, Leroy has been a part of the Special Olympics Western Australia community for over 10 years and in that time has made lifelong friendships and achieved therapy goals all while playing the sport that he loves.

Almost 19-year-old Leroy lives with autism spectrum disorder which affects his ability to interact with others socially, complete his self-care tasks independently, and organize himself and his belongings on his own. Joining basketball was one of the ways Leroy could work on his social skills while participating in an activity that he loves.

After being selected for the National Special Olympics basketball team back in 2018, Leroy was able to participate in his first competition. But getting to that point was quite a journey. Leroy’s dad Elie explains.

“We would just take him to do something he loves. He loved basketball training. We didn’t expect him to get picked for the team, not because we thought he couldn’t, we just didn’t think it was a possibility. Then he got picked to participate”.

Leroy’s family told their Therapy Focus Occupational Therapist about this amazing achievement. She was so excited for him that she helped Leroy complete a grant application Leroy’s grant application was successful, and he could accept his appointment to the basketball team. His mother Samar was also attended to help him with his daily tasks while he was away.

“Everyone’s support means so much. The coaches, the other Special Olympics parents, Leroy’s Occupational Therapist, they mean so much” Elie shared.

Winning gold in 2018 has given Leroy so much motivation in his training for the 2022 games. He has been sticking to his training regime to ensure he is in peak physique for this year’s games where he will play for the Western Australia basketball team once more.

Leroy stands with his team on the podium

Pictured: Leroy (center in jumper 5) stands with his teammates on the podium after winning gold in 2018.

“Leroy trains once a week with his team. He always looks forward to it” Elie shared.

Elie is proud as punch, as any parent would be, of Leroy’s achievements.

“It is so special to see him do something he loves. Basketball keeps his mind off other things, and it helps him be more independent”.

“It’s been amazing to see other people in the same position and to watch Leroy interact with others in a similar situation,” Elie said.

Leroy will compete in his basketball tournament on 15 October 2022.

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