NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – He was just shy of 3 when Erin and Richard DeLuca put their son Michael on his first pair of skis on a slope in Vermont.
“He didn’t want to take them off and wouldn’t come in until we let him ski down the hill… and he flew,’’ said his mother, Erin DeLuca. “We knew then he was a natural at the sport.’’
Michael, now 16 and a junior at Northbridge High School, has come a long way since that first time on the slopes. And in February he’s going even further – to PyeongChang, South Korea to represent the U.S. in the 2013 Special Olympics World Games.
The DeLuca's have always encouraged Michael’s involvement in sports and Special Olympics because it has helped him to build self-confidence and manage his challenges. Michael is developmentally delayed with autistic tendencies, his mother said.
Despite that, he is on the high school’s football, tennis and wrestling teams and plays drum in the band.
A group of eight women, who call themselves the "cowbelles'' are planning a party, one of the ways they hope to get the community involved and help raise the several thousand dollars needed to get Michael and his parents to South Korea.
They came up with the name “cowbelles’’ because spectators along the ski slopes ring cowbells as skiers race by. They are his cheerleaders.
The Cowbelles hope the community will come together to help the DeLuca's by attending a fund-raiser on Nov. 10 from 6 to 11 p.m. at the Progressive Club in Uxbridge. It will feature live music by Greg Trussell and the Referrals, along with raffles. The donation for tickets is $10.
They’ll also be placing donation cans at local businesses, are collecting items for use in gift baskets that will be raffled at the Nov. 10 event, and they’ve set up The DeLuca Family Korea Account at UniBank in Whitinsville.
One can also help the DeLuca's get to South Korea through a PayPal account on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Help-Michael-Compete-as-a-Special-Olympia... or though https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/1N5Y4.