Gold medal­ist gets home­town honors

Spe­cial Olympian Cuevas named Grand Mar­shal for 2018 CH Christ­mas Pa­rade

The Progress-Index Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - By Kelsey Re­ichen­berg Staff Writer

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.

[KELSEY RE­ICHEN­BERG/PROGRESS-IN­DEX. COM]

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.

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