Tommy Money used a bird bath and jugs of water to keep fit during the pandemic

Tommy Money used a bird bath and jugs of water to keep fit during the pandemic


New York Special Olympics athlete Tommy Mooney heads to the U.S. Special Olympics with the help of a coach, mother and two milk cartons.

New York Special Olympics athlete Tommy Mooney has always loved sports and competition. His participation in some parts of the Special Olympics dates back to when he was just nine years old playing basketball.

Now, 35, Mooney has transitioned into a much different sport that requires an incredible amount of commitment. Weight lifting.

His mother Ani explained to FanSided what was so attractive to her son about pushing his body to the physical limit.

“He wanted to be one of the guys,” Annie Mooney explained. “In the past, Tommy tried many times to join high school football and high school swimming and he was never accepted. This gave him a chance to do what he loves best, to be a part of the sport to be an athlete.”

Tommy Money won’t stop

Mooney was not only trying to compete, he was trying to win. During the pandemic when gyms closed, Mooney used a PVC tube to hang gallon water jugs, improvising weights to make sure his fitness level didn’t slip. He also put a birdbath on his back while doing push-ups on the grass.

Now back in the gym, Mooney trains with former weightlifter and now Special Olympics coach Chris Hughes in New York. He’s in the same spot as everyone else in the gym, one of the guys, except when he arrives.

“He used to train 20 minutes before each training,” Hughes said. “He was on the bike 20 minutes before each training. You could tell he was going to be successful no matter what.”

Mooney received the news he was hoping for last July. His determination and work ethic of lifting weights every day losing 65 pounds in the process while adding muscle paid off.

Mooney secured a coveted spot in Orlando at the US Special Olympics next summer. Scheduled to take place June 5-12, 2022 in Orlando, Florida, the 2022 Special Olympics USA will bring together more than 5,500 athletes and coaches from all 50 states and the Caribbean during one of the country’s most iconic sporting events.

“It feels like a dream come true,” Tommy Mooney told FanSided. “I cried, I do sports every day. I’m proud of it.”

Mooney promises to do his best as he tries to win a gold medal. There will be no stone or bird trough unchanged in the coming months as Mooney continues to raise the bar for sport, inclusion, competition and belonging.

Why We Play features stories about the power of sport in bringing us together, overcoming obstacles, creating positive change, and reaching everyone. Read more here.

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