Former USF football player starts weightlifting program for kids with special needs

Marky Oliver works at CrossFit Sabal Park

TAMPA, Fla. -- Marky Oliver is a former USF football player and currently works as a personal trainer at CrossFit Sabal Park in Tampa.

A few months ago Oliver was working with a client when he noticed a young man watching them.

His name was Andrew, an all-smiles kid with Down Syndrome. Andrew was with Oliver’s client, who ran a group home for people with special needs.

“Why isn’t he working out with us?” the 26-year-old Marky asked. 

Good question.

The question led to a new weightlifting program for young men with special needs.

“I did a lot of research when I said I wanted to take Andy on,” says Marky. “A lot of the equipment is different, softer tools, a lot of sled stuff.”

Marky started seeing results immediately. Not just in building muscle but also building confidence, too. 

Andrew was afraid to step on blocks to build up his legs. Now he does it with laughing glee.

Shawn, a young man with autism, was shy. Now he is a leader shouting out encouragement. 

“Marky makes us do hard work to achieve,” says Shawn, beaming with pride.

On May 18, Marky’s crew will compete in a weightlifting competition at the Special Olympics Florida's Summer Games in Orlando.

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