Surf/snow champion 'Cool Kid' coaches Special Olympics

LOS ANGELES

Marisa Watkins is an athlete who's won championships in surfing and snowboarding. She also helps Special Olympic athletes, like Brett, be a better bowler.

But while Marisa makes it look easy, she hasn't always had it easy. She's faced obstacles of her own, like a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome.

"Which is high-functioning autism," said Marisa. "Basically, I struggle with communication and social skills."

None of that has stopped her from being a Special Olympics coach.

"It made me feel really good because he's just the type of person I love," said Marisa about Brett. "I love everything about him. He's the happiest kid I've ever known."

One day she hopes to be a Special Education teacher and also teach snowboarding and skiing to people with disabilities.

"She's caring, she's compassionate," said Laura Mayo, Special Olympics regional director. "She understands where they're coming from. She just loves life and she wants to give back."

A shining example herself, Marisa wants people to truly understand what it means to be diagnosed with autism.

"We're just like anybone else," said Marisa. "We have some issues that we have to deal with every day. But we get through them and we try our best."

Marisa Watkins does so much to better her own life, and she also helps others improve theirs too, and that's why she's our Cool Kid.

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