Why She’s Interesting: Taylor was the only Ohioan selected to compete at the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria, where she won a bronze medal in ice dancing and a sixth-place ribbon in figure skating singles. Taylor then represented the organization in Houston at Radio Row at Super Bowl LI. To top off the year, the Cleveland native was one of 27 Special Olympians selected to receive an honorary ESPY Awards.
Shaky Start: Taylor’s mother enrolled the future Olympian in ice skating classes at age 4, along with her twin sister, Shaye, who is also a Special Olympics skater. They were not pleased. “We would just be sitting on the ice, screaming our heads off.” But competition sparked the sisters’ interest, and at age 8, they began competing in the Special Olympics as speed skaters. A year later, they switched to figure skating.
All Good Gifts: Taylor taught herself to play piano by ear as a child, plinking out songs from Godspell and The Little Mermaid. She and Shaye have also sung the National Anthem at Indians games several times, and they regularly play in a band with their father and other parishioners from St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church in Tremont. “Music is a form of medicine. It cures everything. It cheers you up.”
Mission Minded: For Taylor, her accomplishments serve as platforms to break the stigma surrounding disabilities, something she strives to do as an autistic woman. “I want people to look past my disability and see what I can do. Then and only then will their eyes be opened to the possibility that we can coexist.”
Radio Star: Representing the Special Olympics at Radio Row, Taylor gave 35 interviews in less than 48 hours, appearing on Sway in the Morning and The Jenny McCarthy Show among others. She conducted all of her interviews in tandem with model and actress Brooklyn Decker, an ambassador for the Special Olympics. “By the end of it, we were pals.”
Royal Run-In: One of Taylor’s most surreal celebrity encounters came during her Austria trip, when she and some other Olympians toured the 12th century Riegersburg Castle. “Believe it or not, the owner of this castle was actually a real prince. I got to take a selfie with him.” The next day at a tram stop, her brother opened a local newspaper to spot a photograph of Taylor and Prince Josef-Emanuel of the Princely Family of Liechtenstein featured prominently in an article about the athletes’ visit.
Magic Moment: The most difficult move Taylor’s ever landed was the loop jump, a trick she incorporated into her routine at the World Games. She’s still perfecting it, but the tricks aren’t her favorite part of the sport. “It’s that very moment I step out on the ice. Everything that I’ve been thinking about just melts away. It’s a really wonderful feeling.”Interesting Fact: Tonia Kwiatkowski, who earned a silver medal at the 1996 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, helped Taylor train for the World Winter Games.