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Local woman headed to Special Olympics in Boston

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Tanya Barton, 32, of Leyden, strikes a runners pose while wearing her prized neon-green Nike sneakers.

    Recorder/Paul Franz
    Tanya Barton, 32, of Leyden, strikes a runners pose while wearing her prized neon-green Nike sneakers.

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Tanya Barton, 32 of Leyden

    Recorder/Paul Franz
    Tanya Barton, 32 of Leyden

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Tanya Barton, 32, of Leyden, strikes a runners pose while wearing her prized neon-green Nike sneakers.
  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Tanya Barton, 32 of Leyden

LEYDEN — Last summer, while Tanya Barton of Leyden watched the 2012 Olympics on television, she noticed all of the women running the 400-meter race were wearing bright green Nike sneakers.

“It really caught her attention,” said her mother, Mary Lou Barton. “She got very excited. She loved those sneakers.”

Tanya, 32, who was born with Down syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes delays in cognitive abilities and physical growth, as well as a particular set of facial characteristics, told her family how much she’d love a pair, but then forgot about it.

Her cousin did not forget.

“My nephew was staying with us at the time and saw how excited she got over those sneakers,” said her mother. “He emailed Nike to tell the company about Tanya and how much she loved those sneakers. He told Nike she does track and field for Special Olympics and Nike sent her a pair for free.”

An athlete who has been competing in Special Olympics since she was 8, Tanya now runs the 100-meter dash and competes in the softball throw each year.

“I’ve won a lot of gold medals,” she said proudly.

She was also showing off her neon-green sneakers on Thursday as she began gearing up for her trip to Boston on Friday for the start of the Special Olympics summer games.

Tanya plans to compete with a relative, Claudia Holton, 51, and seven other members of her team, The Greenfield Greens, today.

“She won’t let us go to watch,” said her mother. “This is her thing, and she wants to be independent.”

Tanya Barton will stay on the Boston College downtown campus and compete at Harvard University. She was scheduled to compete in opening ceremonies on Friday night and begin competing this morning. She will return home on Sunday afternoon.

“I’m ready,” said Tanya, lifting her foot with an ear-to-ear smile.

Mary Lou Barton said her daughter has also competed in swimming, bowling, soccer, bocce ball and gymnastics over the years.

“She’s done it all, but she really seems to love to run,” said her mother.

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