Gold medalist gets hometown honors
Special Olympian Cuevas named Grand Marshal for 2018 CH Christmas Parade
COLONIAL HEIGHTS — Richard Cuevas recently returned to his hometown of Colonial Heights after competing in the Special Olympics USA Games — and he didn’t come back empty-handed.
The 32-year-old Cuevas walked into the City Council meeting on Tuesday night proudly flashing two gold medals and one bronze around his neck, as Police Chief Jeffrey Faries, Mayor Gregory Kochuba, City Manager Douglas Smith and City Council celebrated his recent accomplishments in Seattle.
Faires, who also serves as the Region Four director of Virginia Special Olympics, highlighted Cuevas’ success in the Special Olympic USA games, where he won multiple medals for his bocce ball performance.
“He is one very, very special young man that has represented the city of Colonial Heights and his friends in Virginia Special Olympics with such honor,” Faries said. “His accomplishments include this past year, ESPN also televised the Special Olympic Games in Seattle, where Richard had won two gold medals and a bronze medal in bocce ball.”
Faries went on to note how
proud he was of Cuevas for achieving his longtime goal: to live life like his peers, independently and in control of his own finances, etc.
Following Faries’ remarks, Kochuba presented Cuevas with the city coin, an honor extended to Colonial Heights residents who accomplish great things.
When asked by Kochuba how it felt to compete in the prestigious nationwide competition, Cuevas responded he was “overwhelmed” and “overjoyed.”
“I was very overwhelmed. From 2014, when I went to nationals in New Jersey, I remember that I won first place gold medal, second place medal, and a fourth place medal for bocce,” Cuevas recalled. “That motivated me to practice more, and so when I went to Seattle I wanted to push myself to the next level and to see if I could get to two golds and one bronze.
“So when I got two golds and one bronze, I was overjoyed,” he added. “I was happy.”
Cuevas’ recognition wasn’t over. Recreation and Parks Superintendent Matt Spruill took the podium next, announcing that Cuevas had been selected as Grand Marshal for this year’s Colonial Heights Christmas Parade.
“Obviously Richard is a great person in this community. He’s done an outstanding job in the Special Olympics and in our therapeutic recreation program,” said Spruill. “So I’m excited tonight to officially announce that Richard will be our Grand Marshal in this year’s Christmas parade.”
Cuevas was one of 46 Virginia athletes who attended the Special Olympics USA Games in early July. The national 16-sport competition featured 4,000 athletes and coaches representing 50 state programs and the District of Columbia.
From left to right, Colonial Heights Mayor Gregory Kochuba, goldmedal-winning Special Olympian Richard Cuevas and Police Chief Jeffrey Faries celebrate Cuevas’ achievements at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 11.