Going For the Gold: CCHC Employee Makes Special Olympics Team
Ever since she was a young girl, Renee Lavigne has loved the game of soccer. She first played with the Barnstable Rec program and then continued to compete in high school at the Riverview School. From there, she has kept the ball rolling with LIFE Force, her current team.
Last November, when LIFE Force competed in their last games at the Special Olympics state finals in Byfield, Massachusetts, she and her teammates received a big surprise. After winning all three games and receiving a gold medal, Andrew Farrell of the New England Revolution appeared on a video announcing her soccer team was chosen to represent the state of Massachusetts in the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games June 5-12 in Orlando, Florida.
“This is the highest level of athletic achievement for me,” says Lavigne, who turns 27 on February 21. “It still feels like a dream and not real.” Team Massachusetts will fly to Orlando on June 4. Opening Day Ceremonies will take place June 5 and her team will participate in practices and games during that week. The closing ceremony is June 11 and her team will fly home June 12.
“I’ve been participating in Special Olympics sports with LIFE for the last 5 years, but I never thought I would be going to the USA Games,” says Lavigne, who also enjoys bowling in the winter and competing in track and field in the spring.
Life at Cape Cod Hospital
Lavigne, a food services associate for Cape Cod Hospital since 2017, works in the Cold Production Department, 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. two days a week. There, she makes salads and sandwiches, assembles fruit cups and portions brownies for the tray line for patients.
She started working for Cape Cod Hospital through Riverview’s Project SEARCH program in 2015-2016. Lavigne, who is on the autism spectrum, is part of the LIFE program (Living Independently Forever) which has three locations: Hyannis, Mashpee and the Pinehills. Lavigne is part of the Hyannis campus, located only 10 minutes from Cape Cod Hospital.
Her mother, Michelle, also works for Cape Cod Healthcare as a medical technologist. She works in microbiology in the lab, where she has worked for 37 years, starting at Falmouth Hospital and then at Cape Cod Hospital when the microbiology department moved there in 2013. Her dad, Peter, is a pharmacist and started in the Cape Cod Hospital Pharmacy in 1983 and then became a pharmacist at Falmouth Hospital in 1985. He joined the IT department at Cape Cod Healthcare in 1998. For the last five years, he has worked as a clinical IT consultant.
“I am built like my dad, tall and a stick thin, and probably got my abilities from him,” says Lavigne. “My brother Eric, 30, also liked soccer as a kid, but changed to playing in the band at Barnstable High School."
Lavigne’s parents plan to travel to Orlando on their own, stay with a family friend, and attend the events throughout the week to support their daughter. “We are beyond proud and excited for Renee to have the opportunity to compete with athletes from all over the country,” says Michelle.
Soccer, Skiing and Special Olympics
Lavigne, who plays forward and sometimes defender on LIFE Force, says her team typically practices every Saturday during the regular season at Mashpee High School. But since COVID and the weather has made it difficult to practice together, athletes have focused on strength training and individual workouts using a Special Olympics app. One of the fitness challenges includes a goal of reaching 1 million steps before the start of the USA Games. Lavigne says she is looking forward to training camp weekend in March at the Yawkey Sports Training Center in Marlborough when Team Mass will train together, pick up uniforms and receive cool swag.
“I’m an outdoorsy person and quick on my feet,” says Lavigne, who also loves downhill skiing. “I’ve been skiing since I could walk,” she says. “I can do double black diamonds.”
But soccer is where her true passion lies. “I like the high intensity action of soccer. There’s lots of adrenaline.”
We wish Renee all the best in 2022 Special Olympics USA Games!
Help Renee reach her fundraising goal for her trip to Orlando. The money raised will help fund equipment, uniforms, transportation and health and safety supplies. (Type Renee Lavigne in the top right corner to get to her fundraising page.)