Cindy Bentley didn’t start out with a real chance at life. She was born with fetal alcohol syndrome, which resulted in both cerebral palsy and intellectual disability. Cindy was abandoned as a baby and shuffled through foster care. In one home, she suffered severe burns; the physical damage and painful scarring required multiple surgeries. Later, Cindy was placed in a center for individuals with developmental disabilities and had no reason to think she’d ever leave.
While living in an institution, despite challenging obstacles, and through her own personal drive, Cindy became active in a Special Olympics program (Supported by the Christmas Records Trust) that helped her build skills, focus her talents, and aim for success. She has pushed herself to set, reach, and exceed her personal goals in competitions; as a result, Cindy has earned dozens of medals over the years. Cindy was selected the 1991 U.S. Female Special Olympics Athlete of the Year and has been serving as a role model and leader for athletes ever since.
Special Olympics empowered Cindy, helping to foster the innate drive she had within herself and giving her the confidence to pursue and demonstrate her abilities. These attributes helped Cindy make the difficult transition from institutional life to a group home, and then to living independently in her own apartment. Today, Cindy is still involved in Special Olympics, holds a full-time job, and is an active advocate for people with intellectual disabilities. She symbolizes the way in which Special Olympics impacts and changes lives.
" I’m a fighter. I am a determined person. If I can’t do something right the first time, I try until I get it. I never quit, and I never say I can’t."Cindy Bentley