GENESEO — Visitors to Main Street Geneseo may recognize Heather as a smiling face behind the counter at Finger Lakes Cookie Company, where she completed an internship and a stint as a part time employee. Heather Bump of Geneseo is one of 53 athletes representing New York State in the 2018 Special Olympics, held in Seattle, Washington.
Bump is competing in the Unified Alternate Shot Team Play (9 Hole) with her partner Linda Rainer of Piffard. The event consists of a Special Olympian and their non-disabled partner alternating turns hitting the ball until it is holed. Throughout the golfing season, Special Olympians and their partners in our area compete in regional and state events. Those who earn gold medals at these levels may be entered into a drawing to compete at the USA Games.
“I was so excited when I found out I would be going to the Special Olympics USA Games,” Heather says in a previous interview with The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming. “I am very proud to represent my state, my family, my house, and my church. Special Olympics has given me something to be proud of that I can say that I have done compared to my friends with and without disabilities.”
Heather and Linda will be accompanied by long-time coach Martha Pachuta, of Perry. Martha and Heather became acquainted in the mid-1980s, when Heather was discovering herself as a young athlete. About a dozen years ago, Martha began to coach Heather in golf, helping to nurture Heather’s interests and develop her play.
Special Olympics has five levels of golf. Heather spent about 5 years at the initial “Skills Development”level, where she honed her skills with putting and various shots before moving to level 2- the Unified Sports (9 hole) which she and Linda play today. Both the Unified Sports and Individual Stroke Play competitions have 9 hole and 18 hole levels
“We have been able to see Heather really progress,” Martha says. “Heather has positivity, focus and determination. She takes it very seriously, which is a true advantage.”
The USA Special Olympic Games will be shown on ESPN 2 and ESPN 3 all week