HOT SPRINGS, Ark — Olivia Knighten has played multiple sports through the Special Olympics since grade school, and her favorites include basketball and soccer for one simple reason:
"They're fun," she said.
Knighten began participating in Unified Sports at Lakeside during junior high and helped the Rams win a state championship in unified basketball in 2015.
"We go to places and people say hello to Olivia, and I don't know them, but she does," said her mom, Misty. "Most of the time it's because she's met them through sports."
Those sports, Misty says, have helped create tremendous growth in her daughter.
"In her following rules, being a team player, listening to a coach, and working hard for something," she said. "Everyone needs something to work hard for."
The Knightens will be moving to Little Rock, where Olivia will continue playing sports through the Special Olympics.
"I think that there's a lot of teams, basketball, soccer, baseball, that she'll be able to participate in," her mother said.
Once in Little Rock, Olivia will also be taking up dance lessons.
"We're moving into a new dance group," said Misty, "up to the adult group, so she's excited about that."
The Knightens might be moving on from Lakeside, but Misty and her family will always be thankful for the experience Olivia had as a Ram.
"It was been wonderful," Misty said. "We have enjoyed it so much as a family. Her entire family supports her. It's great to have the other athletes support both the special needs kids and the kids that come out to guide them while they're playing. She's made so many great friends and I think that's the thing we've taken away from it."