A Surreal Several Weeks That McGuire Won’t Soon Forget
By Paul Silverfarb
It’s been quite the month for Kieran McGuire and something the Greenwich resident won’t forget about any time soon.
McGuire, who had a stroke at birth and has faced every obstacle in his path head-on to overcome his disability, has been honored by the Greenwich YMCA, presented Rowdy Gaines with a medal (and has some 1-on-1 time with the Olympic legend) and also took home several gold medals during the Connecticut Special Olympics a few weeks ago.
Not too shabby for a kid who is taking it all in stride and working harder than ever to accomplish even more goals.
And on May 11, under the tent at the Greenwich YMCA Gala event, Kieran joined his father Don McGuire on stage to receive the 2018 YMCA Greenwich Impact Award. Also in attendance was his mother, Carol, and his brother, Daniel.
“It felt really good to get the award,” Kieran McGuire said. “I means to me that I can do well in swimming and I can swim 25 meters in the pool. For the rest of my life I can tell people that I can overcome my struggles in the pool and it’s safer for me.”
A defining moment for Kieran and the McGuire family was when he started participating in the YMCA Swim Strong program two years ago. With the help of his instructor, Angela Reeve, Kieran not only became a better swimmer, but the smiles and confidence, something that is now a trademark for Kieran, started to shine through.
“Thank you for honoring our son, Kieran, with the Impact Award and having the McGuire family here tonight,” said Don McGuire when he was introducing Kieran to the crowd at the gala. “In one of our rooms at home, we have a small cube that reads: ‘Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.’ This was written by the parent of a special needs child as a way to express the need to enjoy your life no matter what obstacles or challenges come your way. It’s all about seeing the upside and being positive.
“Our family certainly has learned to dance in the rain and as a result we have moved from the storm through the rain and now enjoy sunshine,” added Don McGuire. “And that sunshine is Kieran.”
During the Impact Award presentation, Greenwich YMCA CEO Bob DeAngelo mentioned how there is a photo of Reeve and McGuire together and something noticeable in the photo was the ear-to-ear smile. DeAngelo said that the smile exuded self-confidence and trust, not only in Reeve, but in himself as well.
“We are all so proud and inspired by Kieran,” said DeAngelo, who, during the ceremony, made sure to tell McGuire to keep believing him himself and never let anyone tell him that he couldn’t do something. “He trusted his instructor Angela Reeve and believed in himself. You can see his confidence in his smile. The mission of our YMCA is to build strong community. One aspect of that is the teaching of new skills and the self-confidence you gain by it. This Impact Award celebrates the power of bringing out ones best and inspiring others in the process.”
And the good times kept rolling for Kieran McGuire. During the Connecticut Special Olympics held two weeks ago, McGuire did “wonderful” by taking two gold medals, one in the shot put and another in the softball throw.
“I work every Saturday morning with Angela Reeve on swimming,” McGuire said. “I work on shot put and softball with my father and my brother, who is my coach.
The Connecticut Special Olympics took place June 8-10 at several locations. The track and field, swimming and tennis events took place at the Southern Connecticut State University, while the cycling took place at the Yale University west campus. Both soccer and developmental swimming events took place at the Hamden Hall athletic fields.
“It was very special,” Kieran McGuire proudly said.
Sandwiched in the middle of those events was the chance to meet a fellow Olympian. And who better to give an award to an Olympic swimmer than a fellow Olympian.
The YMCA hosted Rowdy Gaines, who has seen a medal or two around his neck. During the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, Gaines took home three gold medals, winning the 100-meter freestyle and was a member of the 4×100-meter medley and freestyle teams.
Gaines also won five gold medals and three silver medals at the World Championships and won seven gold medals and one bronze at the Pan-American Games.
While at the Greenwich YMCA, Gaines conducted a water safety clinic and talked to members of the facility. But what made the day special for McGuire was that he was chosen to surprise Gaines and give him a medal for being a winner in life and giving back to children by teaching them how to swim.
“It was really good and felt really good in my heart that I could give it to him,” said McGuire. “It was good to see him. We talked about what it felt like to be an Olympian. We are both Olympians and it felt good.”
Despite the honors, don’t expect Kieran to gloat or rest on his laurels. In fact, he’s right now probably hard at work looking to conquer the next goal on his agenda.