On March 13, Justin Richter was named the Howard County Recreation and Parks Youth Player of the Year Good Sports winner at the Mid Atlantic Recreation and Sports Alliance Awards at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis, MD. Richter was nominated by the Special Olympic Committee for helping another Special Olympic Athlete.
Whether it is allied soccer, bowling, or softball, Richter can always be seen smiling and having a good time.
Richter is always in good spirits and actually has a special nickname for almost everyone on the team, whether they are a teammate, a peer, or a coach.
Since the fifth grade, Richter has been actively involved with Special Olympics. However, playing on high school sports teams is what he looked forward to for years.
“Justin loves all of the sports he participates in at Mt. Hebron. I think what he likes the very most is being a part of something that is like everyone else. He loves his friends, the peers, and his coaches. Justin loves having a uniform and wearing it proudly. Sometimes society gets wrapped up in being the best. Justin is a reminder that sports can give a kid so much without them being a star or the best. It gives friendships, community, and a sense of belonging,” said Justin’s mother, Alesia Richter.
Mrs. Richter followed up by reflecting back on Justin’s life.
“I just keep thinking about when I was not sure if he was even going to be able to talk. Justin’s journey has not been an easy one,” she said. “When he was recognized for being a good person, it was a reminder of how far that can take a person.”
“I was shocked when they announced my name as the winner. It was a very exciting day,” he said.
Richter makes it a priority to interact with every one of his teammates each practice. He is very encouraging of his fellow teammates and is very helpful when it comes to making sure that others around him are following directions.
“He always cheers on everyone at practices and helps other players that need a little extra help. You can always count on him to grab equipment when needed and take charge. He is such a sweet kid to talk to and someone who is so easy to be around,” said senior and peer partner Molly Peterson.
In order to be a good teammate, one must follow the “three B’s” according to Richter.
“Be nice, be kind, and be cheerful!”
Richter, like many members of his community, will continue to participate in Special Olympic and Best Buddies activities as he moves through high school and on to the next steps in his life.