My Legendary World Class Mother

March 22, 2022

By Hanna Atkinson

Hanna Atkinson 23, lives in Littleton Colorado. She has been an avid public speaker and gave the commencement speech at her high school graduation. She became a Denver 7 contributor in 2015 and was awarded the Heartland Broadcast Emmy in 2017 for her segment “More Alike Than Different.” Hanna was selected to be a Special Olympic International Health Messenger in 2017 to educate fellow athletes on becoming their best in sports and in life. She is creating a business to inspire joy, acceptance, and empowerment in memory of her brother, and she volunteers for many community nonprofits. In Hanna’s free time she likes to ski, cycle, works out, plays chess, and listens to classical music.

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This story was originally posted on Specialolympics.org here.

Colette Ann Atkinson is my mother. She grew up in Wisconsin and now she lives in Colorado. She has a fraternal twin sister who is a marvelous artist. My mother is trained as an occupational therapist and has dedicated her life to helping and healing.

She brought all those skills to her role as a proud mother of four. As the youngest child, who happens to have Down syndrome, I saw how hard she worked to make sure that my speaking skills and physical abilities were the best they could be.

With the skills she has taught me, I have been able to dream big dreams. She embraced and encouraged my dreams.

Two women ride bicycles in a road race.
Smiles for 67 miles at the Trek 100 with my mom

My mother does have a strong faith in God, and she has passed it along to me. During COVID, we started doing online church services, which has been a great way to sing and dance our way through worship. Nobody dances better or with more joy than my mom!

When I’m not working, our typical day is a mix of yoga, cardio on the stairs, elliptical or bike, meal planning and cooking, speech writing and scriptwriting for my cooking show, video meetings, and maybe a little time to relax with a video. Did I mention dancing and laughing? We do a lot of that too!

Two women stand in the mountains. They're wearing snowshoe equipment and smiling for the camera.
Snowshoeing with my mom at Echo Lake

My mother is very creative, and she does spectacular artwork. She is humble and selfless and likes to listen instead of talking. Since I like to talk, we get along great, but she is teaching me to listen.

She is very brave. If there is a difficult job to do, she is first in line. She is strong. When my brother died, she stayed steady, even though her heart was so broken.

My mother has taught me to be honest with everyone. She has shown me that violence is not an answer to any situation.

I learned from my mother to be kind to all things and especially kind to all of us who are different. I learned from my mother that maturity is essential to being an independent individual. Maturity helps me be patient and optimistic. I learned from my mother that hard work and determination will give all of us positive results. I learned from my mother that we are valued and that everyone does have their own story because we can’t all be the same and it is much better to be unique. She has always celebrated and encouraged my unique talents, like when I insist on singing at the top of my lungs in church, even when some of the notes and words are not exactly right.

I dedicated this blog post to my mother because she is a legend in my eyes. I want to share the way her advice and guidance in life helped shape me to be a leader. I am very proud to call her my mother. There is no replacement for a special relationship between a mother and a daughter.

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