River Grove resident takes Special Olympics gold
Leonard Joda celebrates during his gold medal winning performance during a July Special Olympics bowling tournament. | Photo courtesy Henry Joda
Updated: September 17, 2012 7:44AM
RIVER GROVE — Leonard Joda is a gold medalist, winning the top prize at an area Special Olympics bowling tournament.
Joda, 36, a River Grove resident, has bowled since freshman year of high school. Since 2009, he has competed in the Special Olympics.
“They trained me for five weeks,” Joda said. “Then, they came up with my average and then you compete in the competition.”
Joda worked with coach Kathy Thompson.
The Special Olympics bowling tournament took place at Stardust Lanes in Addison on July 28. Joda said the next district games take place Oct. 14.
“I felt very happy when I won for the first time,” Joda said. “I was so happy and ecstatic. I thought I was going to cry, but I couldn’t because I was too happy.”
Joda, a Eucharistic Minister and usher at St. Cyprian Church, feels like a local celebrity, with people congratulating him and asking him for autographs.
“After I won my gold medal, I showed my neighbors,” he said. “They still can’t stop talking about it.”
But, this gold medalist has not let his victory go to his head.
“I congratulated the silver and bronze medalists,” he said. “I shook their hands.”
Joda is a graduate of Minor School in Arlington Heights. He has been a member of the St. Cyprian Parish community his entire life. He started working as an usher in March 2010 and then later went on to become a St. Cyprian Eucharistic minister. Joda said he loves giving out communion and the people like him.
He has also worked at Dominick’s at Thatcher Woods Shopping Center for the past 12 years.
Besides bowling, Joda used to play basketball. To keep in shape, he works out at Gottlieb Fitness Center three times a week.
Joda continues practicing bowling and plans on competing in the Special Olympics for years to come.