LaToya Smith at Beach Bump

Hat backwards, jean shorts elevated above her waist, cream colored thick prescription glasses, LaToya Smith stood in the sand waiting for the server to start play. As the volleyball floated towards her, she calmly struck it. The ball floated through the air and landed well out of play.

Not a problem though, see LaToya isn’t a sand volleyball player, not at all.

In fact, before the volleyball fundraiser, team captain Linda Cobb convinced her to join the team by ensuring LaToya that she, Linda, was the team’s most non-athletic member. LaToya took the bait and joined, but she’s also use to trying new things, it’s part of what makes her so capitol ‘C’ Cool.

Finding Friends & Confidence

In 2012, LaToya took up competitive bowling with Special Olympics New Jersey. Later, she played soccer for a brief time, and just recently competed at state Summer Games in the 50-meter dash and the softball throw. She really enjoys competing, it’s helped her make friends and become a more confident person.

While sports are a social outlet for LaToya, if you spend any time talking to her, she will get right into her passion: drawing. When we asked, she dove right in, telling us all about it.

“I started drawing on August 6th, 2013,” said LaToya. “People tell me i’m pretty good at remembering dates,” she commented. Her very first drawing was of the cartoon character Betty Boop. She claims she erased a few times, but thought it turned out pretty well. After that, she was hooked. LaToya has been drawing nearly every day since.

She mainly draws pictures of cartoon characters, but will often draw her friends and members of her community center, the Arc of Atlantic County. Her next big project is drawing pictures of everyone for Christmas. Linda Cobb, who works at the Arc of Atlantic County, has countless pieces of her work, “She’s a fantastic artist!”

Outside of competing with Special Olympics New Jersey and creating art, LaToya works part time at a movie theatre and is also about to become a member of the board at the Arc of Atlantic County. Her responsibilities will include sharing her experiences, and wisdom with other children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

When asked what advice she would give them, LaToya said, “I want them to know they can accomplish anything they want no matter what their disability is.”

Award-Winning Positive Attitude

LaToya is growing as an artist, athlete, and person each day. She continues to approach each day willing to try something new. Just recently, that positive attitude led her to be selected as the recipient of the Atlantic County Donald J. Sykes Award, an award given to any county resident who has contributed to the betterment of her community and to the lives of others. She will accept her award in October.

We are honored that she is a part of our community, and commend her for her talents and great outlook on life.

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