Playing Golf Builds Self-Esteem

Michael Ladieu

We had an amazing two days of golf at the 2021 State Golf Championships on December 10-11. More than 250 athletes and Unified partners turned out to play at Disney’s beautiful Magnolia and Oak Trail courses in Central Florida. One of those athletes was Osceola County athlete Michael Ladieu.

Michael, now 44, was born with fetal alcohol syndrome, but he refuses to let his disability limit him. He credits golf with helping him overcome a substance abuse problem and with building his self-esteem. Special Olympics, he says, has shown him he can accomplish great things and help others do the same. Next year, Michael will represent Team Florida at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games. He said when he learned he’d been chosen to compete, “my jaw dropped.”

“It was the best feeling ever,” he said. “I felt like I’ve accomplished something that I’d been working toward for a very long time.”

Michael said competing is great, but Special Olympics Florida offers him something even more valuable. It surrounds him with people who support him, work with him, and treat him with compassion and respect.

“You feel that love in your chest,” he said. “That you’re safe and you’re welcomed. It’s just the love.”

Learn more about Michael’s story.