A snowboarder from Washington state is getting a lot of attention that he never dreamed of achieving. Jeremy Beckham, who is competing at Special Olympics World Games in Austria, has gone from struggling to communicate and learn effectively due to a condition called Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) to the world stage. He was interviewed on "Good Morning America", in an ESPN commercial promoting the World Games, and he even convinced a three-time Grammy Award winner to sing a love song to his girlfriend.
"It's amazing to be snowboarding for only three years and to be here. It's been a lot of fun," the 20-year-old said, "I love being at the Special Olympics World Games."
During the World Games, Beckham placed seventh in Snowboarding Giant Slalom. But he also made a gutsy move during a Unified Sports Experience with California-based singer/songwriter, Jason Mraz that has his friends talking and that melted his girlfriend's heart. Beckham convinced Mraz to modify his song "I Won't Give Up" and sing it for his girlfriend, back home in Washington. Beckham also got Mraz to sign his snowboarding helmet, so he'll always have this memory with him
Beckham's family, including his mother, stepfather, and sister traveled to Austria with him. "It's been fantastic and overwhelming to see Jeremy doing these things," his mother, Debbie Smith, said, "It means more than you can imagine. It's incredibly moving and meaningful."
He didn't speak full sentences until he was about seven-years-old. Beckham and his sister are very close. She became his translator and communicator because she said she intuitively knew what he wanted to say.
His learning disability put him behind in school. A friend recommended Special Olympics to the family when he was in the 4th grade. "Special Olympics has changed Jeremy," said his sister, Heléna Beckham, "He's blossoming in every way. He's very confident now."
"Our gold medal moment has been seeing Jeremy where he is now and seeing him thrive," said his stepfather, Doyal Smith.