Kim Lively made it her goal to live in Cyclone Country. With an autographed chair, ISU women's volleyball team poster and Cyclone patterned window shades, Lively is undoubtedly a sports fan.
What makes Lively unique is her battle with cerebral palsy and her passion for athletics and communicating with others.
"I get to speak at the Polar Plunge because Iowa State students like the Special Olympics athletes," Kim said.
Kim's mother, Katey Lively, said Kim has spoken to several other organizations such as the Kiwanis, the police and the Ames City Council.
From an early age, Kim said she wanted to compete in sports, but never had the opportunity. Her brother was a football player in high school and her sister, Kathy, was an exceptional softball player.
A dedicated fan, Kim had the craving to compete in sports herself. Her local area did not have a Special Olympics program, but Kim was able to gain instruction from Kathy and the high school softball coach.
Kim said working with Kathy and her coach helped her overcome her shyness. Katey saw a noticeable difference in Kim's demeanor.
"It's made her a whole person," Katey said. "That's what I think everybody needs to know, this is their opportunity to become whole people."
After moving to Ames, Kim got involved with the Special Olympics and participated in athletic events she had always wanted to compete in. Kim started in 1989 with one event and now competes in multiple events, including unified bocce with her mother Katey.
Kim also competes in the 50-meter walk, as well as the softball throw. Katey said Kathy was a great influence on competing in the softball throw and has coached her for the event.
As well as coaching Kim, Kathy also joins her to compete in the Unified Golf Tournament where the two have won the gold medal three consecutive years.
"Two years before that we won gold," Kim said.
Kim said competing in the Special Olympics has made her more out-going, self-confident and independent. Before becoming involved in the Special Olympics and the Global Messengers program, Katey said that Kim led a rather secluded lifestyle.
"Before the Special Olympics, Kim went to a sheltered workshop [and] now she holds a job," Katey said, when referring to what Kim's sister had once said. "Before Special Olympics, Kim lived in a group home. Now she owns her own condo.”
Katey said the Global Messengers program opened a lot of doors for Kim by helping her become more open with others around her.
"It's a group of young special olympians that are trained to give speeches and they go to different fundraising events," Katey said.
One notable occasion brought smiles to Kim's and Katey's faces when they recalled a Global Messengers fundraising event held by Iowa State a couple years ago.
At the conclusion of Kim's speech, the men’s basketball team rose to their feet to give Kim a standing ovation.
“That’s pretty high on our hit list,” Katey said.
What Katey said she was most impressed with was Iowa State and the supportive student body. However, Katey did have one request of Iowa State students.
“You know what I think would be just a super thing? Is if the student body would just come down and mingle with the athletes and cheer," Katey said. "Even if you’re cheering for the person that comes in last, that’s a wonderful thing for that person.”