An Unspoken Bond
A year ago, Tate Levendoski and Leoudy Sosa didn't know each other or have a way to communicate with each other. The two met through Project UNIFY® at Everett High School in Lansing after Tate, a 16-year-old sophomore, was asked by a teacher if he'd be interested in joining the Unified bowling program. Tate, an avid bowler, jumped at the opportunity and was paired with Leoudy Sosa, a 20-year-old Special Olympics Michigan athlete and senior at Everett High School who also happens to be deaf.
The two formed an instant bond despite the fact that they had to overcome a major language barrier.
"I didn't know sign language, but through the hallways we gave each other high fives," recalls Tate. The pair's inability to communicate didn't last long, though.
"Leoudy showed me a sign language website," says Tate. "Every night before bed, before I go to school, whenever I have some time, I go through and learn new signs. And ever since then, I'm signing with him and...we've been talking back and forth."
Tate and Leoudy represented Team Michigan in Unified bowling at the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games in New Jersey. And represent they did, winning the gold medal in their division! But the medals they bring home are nothing compared to the lifelong friendship they've formed.
"This is the closest we've ever been," says Tate. "It's definitely been overwhelming. I cried during opening ceremonies. On the plane, I cried. This whole experience has been a dream."