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December 05, 2012 | North America: North Carolina

Earn It! Zach Butler Trains to be a Champ

By Megan O'Donnell

Zach Butler pulls a 250 lb sled while working out with strength coach Bill Burniston at Performance Academy in Apex, NC. Butler is getting in shape to compete at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in the Republic of Korea.

His cheeks are red, his breathing rapid, Zach Butler grimaces as he uses all his strength to pull a 225 lb sled 50 yards. “Come on Zach, let’s own it! We’ve got to earn everything we get,” belted out Bill Burniston, Butler’s strength coach at Performance Academy in Apex. “We don’t want anyone to give us a gold medal. We want to earn it!”

 Butler, a Special Olympics North Carolina athlete, has been working hard to improve his speed, strength and endurance. The 27-year-old was selected to compete in snowboarding at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in the Republic of Korea Jan 29 – Feb. 5, 2013.  Butler has shown he is committed.

 “One part of myself says just get through it,” Butler said. “The second part says you can’t do this. It isn’t for you, just quit. I keep going with my first mind and pushing through. It’s gotten better each week. I’m no longer ready to pass out at the end-just tired.” After a month at Performance Academy, Butler began to notice his hard work paying off. He’d lost 10 pounds and his shirts were no longer snug. His mother caught him admiring his improved physique.

 “He asked me, have I got a six-pack yet,” laughed Lynn Butler, Zach’s mother. “I told him not quite yet but keep working. This experience has been so good for him. He looks at himself and says I’m thinner and stronger. He’s so proud."

About Megan O'Donnell: Vice President of Communications for Special Olympics NC for 8 years and long time friend of Zach's and very proud to see him make the most of his upcoming opportunity.
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