Watch Special Olympics Athlete Get Surprised by Montell Jordan with News She'll Compete at USA Games
Aziza Speight will compete in powerlifting at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando
One awesome young athlete got the surprise and honor of a lifetime last week — she's going to compete in the Special Olympics USA Games next year.
Aziza Speight, 32, will compete in powerlifting at the Games in Orlando, Florida, next June, and tells PEOPLE, "I feel a whole bunch of proud."
She was surprised with the news that she'd be invited to the USA Games for Team New York in a video call with "This Is How We Do It" singer Montell Jordan last week, who is a champion ambassador for the Special Olympics.
"People with special needs are extremely competitive, talented, and even when they have extremely challenging disabilities they are up for a challenge," Jordan tells PEOPLE. "Truthfully, I thought I might be able to inspire some of the athletes and I immediately found that I was the one being inspired!"
He was thrilled to take the opportunity to chat with Aziza, and calls the experience of sharing her qualification for the USA Games "joyful." Elaborates Jordan, "Her joy and excitement poured from my screen ... and when she was familiar with my music, my heart connected with her and her parents! Aziza was my first announcement, but she won't be my last!"
Aziza was born prematurely at around 2 lbs. to a woman with addiction struggles who was unable to care for her. She was transferred to the Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, D.C., for treatment for health issues that resulted from her birth mother's substance abuse, where she met her mom, Fran Speight, who began fostering Aziza and eventually adopted her.
For 24 years now, Aziza has been involved in Special Olympics New York, through which Fran says she's been given countless opportunities for growth and has gained "confidence and friendship."
"When she was young, she was very shy and withdrawn, and you wouldn't know it now, she's very outspoken," Fran tells PEOPLE. "And we credit a lot of that to Special Olympics."
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Adds Fran, "Whenever she goes to Special Olympics gatherings, people are always going, 'Aziza, Aziza, Aziza!' Like when she takes the bus down to her work, she is run into several people that she knows by name, and they're all from Special Olympics. ... She gets a big kick out of seeing people that she knows all throughout the community."
Aziza, who also bowls and loves to draw and crochet in her free time, got into powerlifting thanks to her fiancé, Joel Armstrong, a fellow special Olympian who attended the last USA Games in Seattle, Washington. Aziza wasn't selected at the time, which makes her participation next year even more exciting.
"It's fun, you get to compete, and you get to eat a lot of food," Aziza tells PEOPLE of what she's looking forward to. "You meet new people." Aziza is also hoping her Florida trip will coincide with a first visit to Disney World.
The 2022 Special Olympics USA Games will begin on June 5, 2022, and continue through June 12 in Orlando. More than 5,500 athletes and coaches from across the country and the Caribbean are expected to participate.
The Games include 19 Olympic-style team and individual sports, which also include soccer, volleyball, swimming, and tennis.
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