(Todd) Alison and I have been happily married for 11 years. Our love is still quite hot and full of many surprises. For example, for our anniversary this year we stayed at a fancy hotel. Alison didn’t know where we were going. She was really amazed I had organized this for her.
There have been ups and downs in our relationship, but we are pretty good together. We love and support each other. I’ve known her since I started working at Kilmarnock in 1985. She was working there before I was. Over the years, I began to notice her. I had other relationships before we got together, but early on I realized my relationship with her was going to be special.
(Allison) I have been working at Kilmarnock for about 32 years. After I left school, I went directly to work there.
Kilmarnock employs people with different abilities. They test the skills of the people who come in. They help them find a job, which is right for them.
They do several tests and provide training and support during the employment process. They check how quickly you get to work in the mornings; if you find it easy or hard to concentrate on what you are doing, things like that. They verify if you can operate certain machinery and if you follow through with what you are asked to do.
We enjoy working there. It gives us an opportunity to contribute to society and to be independent. We are very happy now because we are moving to another building. It will be warmer, especially in the mornings. It is an open concept workplace and everyone is going to be spread around the building. It is going to be great.
In our day-to-day lives, we live together in a flat with our birds and our cat. We are very independent. We go to the supermarket, go to the doctor and do all sorts of things. Neither of us drive, so we take the bus. Todd does the cooking and I do the dishes.
(Todd) We like to go to the movies. We liked Ghostbusters, the remake. Most of all, we like to go ten-pin bowling. We have participated in both regional and international events organized by the Special Olympics. I have got many medals, including Gold. Participating in the competitions is always a good experience because I like to meet new people, share my hobbies with my wife and challenge myself.
The Special Olympics is just like the main Olympics. You are away from home for a month. You get given a uniform for the team. You stay with a host family for a week or two. You play over two weeks, three games per day. In a month, you probably play 36 games in total.
I have been playing 15 or 20 years and I love it.
Allison my wife also has been playing for many years. She got her gold medal in 2002. I got mine in 1999.
To be a good player depends on many things, like how strong you are and your coordination. It depends on the weight of the ball, too. You can choose from a size six. I have a size 13.
(Allison) My ball is size eight.
(Todd) When we went to the Special Olympics in North America, we had to take them with us. We had to take over all our equipment. Our team travelled with 90 pieces of luggage. When we came home, we ended up with about 300 pieces, mostly full with shopping, not to mention our medals. We were very excited to come back home as we did pretty well. We were featured in the local press, which was great.
To be able to travel, we had to raise the most of the money ourselves. Which was between $5,000 and $6,000.
We also has to prove that we where fit and that we could cope with the pressure. The Special Olympics’ organizers check if you have mood swings, because you have got to travel for 12 or 13 hours and spend many hours with others. Mainly, they look at your behavior. What your attitude is like. If you are too negative or disruptive, they won’t take you.
I don’t have problems with my behavior, but I have health issues. I have got scoliosis, which is an abnormal curvature of the spine. Two years ago, I had Bells Palsy. It took two years to come right but It left me with a lazy eye. I also had a serious leg infection from blood poisoning. The Special Olympics have a healthy athlete programme. You can get free ear, eye, and teeth checks. They check your feet and make an appointment for you to go to an orthotic place if you need help.
In terms of intellectual disabilities, I’m probably a bit of a slow learner.
I have always managed to overcome all that, but I did not always have support or understanding from others. I used to have trouble reading, for example, and that often made things difficult for me.
(Allison) I have trouble spelling and reading, I’m not very good with maths. Sometimes I have a little bit of trouble with my memory.
(Todd) It is not that tough to be honest. We can catch a bus; we know what bus to catch to get where we need to go. We can understand what the different letters on the signs mean.
Sometimes we do feel a little bit limited in what we can do. For example, our dream has always been to travel overseas on our own, maybe to America. It will be very difficult for us. It would be very hard because of our difficulty with reading and other disabilities. Our parents wouldn’t let us travel on our own because of that. They have been always a good support for us, so I know they always have our best interest at heart.
In general, our lives are pretty good. We have good jobs, live in a nice and comfortable place, have the support from many people and still are very independent. Most of all, we have and love each other and that is what is most important to us.
Todd and Allison Quested