Makeup by Teresa Lanz, Hot Locks Salon and Spa

Student and Special Olympics medalist Katie Baumgartle was voted 2019 Most Admired Women in the Fitness category. 

Katie Baumgartle
Student, Jeffersonville High School, Special Olympics medalist
Family: Parents Brian and Kimberly; brothers Dylan and Maksym
Area of town: Jeffersonville, Indiana

Katie Baumgartle’s parents never looked at her autism as something that would or could hold her back. Instead, autism was something like eye or hair color: an aspect of her but not the sum total of her existence. Autism doesn’t affect her ability to swim six hours a day during winter break for the Jeffersonville High School swim team; she is an endurance champion, which has helped her win medals at the Special Olympics. Her mother says if Katie gets knocked down 800 times, she’ll get up 800 times. Katie and her family credit her special relationships with her cousins Jasmine, Lily, Violet, and Niko with helping her make many strides in her communication.

What are your favorite and least favorite exercises when you’re training?
I do yoga and stretches. I like kettlebells. I don’t like dry land when we go outside running. We run through the bleachers.

What are your favorite and least favorite swim strokes?
My favorites are freestyle and backstroke. My least favorite is breaststroke. I can’t do my legs very quickly.

What motivates you?
I’m motivated to be like my peers and achieve my goals, such as earning my varsity letter in swim or beating a time in a swim meet.

What aspects of high school do you like?
Swimming with my high school team, my accounting class, and my theatre class.

What do you like most about theatre?
Trying to be funny. I like to entertain people.

What aspects of high school are challenging?
I really do not enjoy English class. I have a hard time writing my thoughts down.

Do you see yourself as a role model?
I do not see myself as a role model. I’m only 16. However, I hope I can inspire others to know that a label like autism is just a label. It does not define me or my path. I set my own path and goals. I can do whatever it takes to accomplish my goals.

Who has helped you along your path?
My teachers, speech therapist, occupational therapist, music therapist, and coaches have helped me. Each one has taught me a new tool that I use every day in my life.

What are your favorite things?
Anything Disney, especially Figment and Disney World, riding roller coasters, surfing, trading pins from Special Olympics and Disney, ’50s dress, concerts, music, movies, and shoes.

Do you have a favorite roller coaster?
Diamondback at Kings Island. It’s the most beautiful thing. I just don’t like the Vortex. Do not go.

What concerts have you seen?
My first concert was Billy Joel. I’ve been to see Neil Diamond, Lady Gaga, Guns & Roses, and Metallica. I didn’t want  to miss a thing.

What are your future goals?
I want to go to college and become an accountant. I like math and numbers. I would like to swim for college, too. I would love to swim for U of L.

How has life been different from what you imagined?
This is hard because I’m only 16, but I did not think I would win a woman of the year award as a teenager. It’s really cool and unexpected! [She is the youngest woman to be voted Most Admired Woman.]

What word describes you?
Persistent. I never give up. I always give 110 percent.

What adventure would you like to experience?
I would love to go to Japan one day because I like noodles.

Congratulate Katie and the other winners in person at our 2019 Most Admired Woman event at The Olmsted on June 25. Purchase your tickets here

P.S. Special Olympics Indiana is celebrating its 50th anniversary this weekend at Indiana State University.