DIEPPE, N.B. – The bond between these two autistic brothers is even stronger than the ice where they’re set to compete on next spring.
Brendon Vriesendorp and his brother Adam are both set to represent New Brunswick in on the ice at the 2016 Special Olympics next spring.
Adam says the brothers have been “Very close for a long time. Ever since a kid….so tight.”
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Brendon, the oldest of the two, already won a gold medal in speed skating at the 2012 Special Olympics.
“I am really fast around the corners,” he said.
His younger brother Adam may not be on a pair of skates, but he shows off his skills on the curling rink. He’s excited to get to compete and represent New Brunswick alongside his brother and friend.
“Yes so happy about that,” Adam said.
“It’s a huge confidence builder.”
“Being part of something, them being autistic and everything, it’s really a great feeling,” said their father Dwayne Vriesendorp.
“They support each other all the way through, no matter what happens they are always there for each other.”
Brendon is now 20 and Adam is 18. Their father says growing up with autism was a struggle at times.
“It has been it’s been a rough go.”
He says they’ve been singled out and teased for being different, but that being involved in sports has changed them for the better. Before Adam starting curling around the age of 10, he was barely able to speak.
“He learned to talk through sign language in school and curling helped him socialize.”
Now Adam is throwing stones on the rink and representing his whole province.
“It’s a huge confidence builder being part of the special Olympics. They do an amazing job.” says Dwayne.
He says Adam found his voice on the curling sheet, where he’s becoming kind of a big shot, like his older brother on the skating rink.
“I am a pro at it,” Adam said.
Both brothers say there is no greater honour than to represent their province together.
“I will cheer him on and I am very excited for him and me,” Brendon said.
The national Special Olympics take place in Corner Brook, Newfoundland this coming March.
Dwayne says he won’t be there to cheer on his boys, he knows his two star athletes will shine no matter how they place, as long as they have each other.