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Heart of Gold: Lakewood twins inspire in the world of figure skating, advocate for special needs

Sharita and Shaye Taylor say they feel at home on the ice.

LAKEWOOD, Ohio — Everyone deserves a place to call home. A place where you're free to be exactly who you are.

For 31-year-old twins Sharita and Shaye Taylor, home is at Serpentini Arena in Lakewood, Ohio. It's where, at just 4 years old, they took their first steps onto the ice. 

"It's given me independence. It's given me a voice," Sharita said.

"It's a passion and the fire within me," Shaye echoed.

Sharita and Shaye have autism. They say being "home" is healing to them.

"Whether it's home, whether it's work, it just disappears when I'm on the ice," Sharita said.

They've done remarkable work at the rink, spending years with the Trinity Special Olympics program.

"It has transformed my life in so many ways," Sharita said.

Dedication to the program helped earn Sharita a spot in the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria.

"I carried a banner representing Special Olympics USA. I was in the front of the crowd and it was just amazing," Sharita said.

She won the bronze medal in ice dancing. And, guess who was by her side? Her best friend, Shaye.

"I was one of the ones cheering her on and I'm so proud of her," Shaye said.

They've also shared big stages together. But there's no competition, just harmony. As avid singers, they've performed the National Anthem together on many occasions. And, they're proud of their shared message as members of the Figure Skating Diversity Inclusion Alliance, pushing for representation in the sport.

"My sister and I ... we're the first people with disabilities in that group," Sharita said.

Their competition days are behind them. Now, the Taylor sisters are doing something even more rewarding: Coaching skaters in the very same Special Olympics program that made them into the women they are today.

"A lot of coaches in our lives have told us over and over again, 'you can do this,'" Sharita said. "What better way to pass on what I have learned to the next generation? And, it just fills my heart with so much joy."

Now, they spread that joy to others, replacing doubt with their "I can do anything," attitude, in the place they call home. 

"Be yourself. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do it. Because I know you can ... and you just have to be brave enough to see it," Shaye said.


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