They’re also accomplished athletes.
Colorado natives Hanna Atkinson, 21, and Connor Long, 21, have challenged themselves as athletes in the Special Olympics for years, but now they’re embracing a new opportunity. The duo are most likely America’s first TV news reporters with Down syndrome. They have a new weekly segment on the Denver 7 News where they interview the coaches, athletes, and families of the Special Olympics Colorado.
Atkinson is a competitive skier who also enjoys reading and works at a local restaurant. She has been with the Special Olympics Colorado for eight years and is working to compete in the 2017 World Games in Austria. “My favorite part of the Special Olympics is becoming a leader, setting goals, and achieving them,” Atkinson says. She also loves “seeing other people and other athletes doing something that they love and care for as much as I do.” Her goal as a reporter for Denver 7 is “to be a kind, well-rounded host and reporter so other people understand what the Special Olympics is about.”
Long is also a competitive skier and thinks that broadcast journalism comes naturally to him because he’s an experienced public speaker. “It’s perfect for me,” he told The Mighty in an email. “It’s a great honor to be part of this project.” Long is confident that his work with Atkinson will encourage other talented people with Down syndrome to follow in their footsteps. “We are not aware of any other broadcast affiliates who have done something long-term like this—but we are pretty sure many will follow,” he says. “If we are the first, we are happy to be the first of many. If we are not the first, we are just as happy to be the latest team helping to change the face of reporting while telling great stories.”
Long and Atkinson started working for Denver 7 News in December and film one two-to-five-minute segment a week which airs on Sunday and is repeated on the nightly news throughout the week. Denver 7 has an ongoing relationship with Special Olympics Colorado, so Long and Atkinson’s future with the station looks bright.
Meet Hanna Atkinson
Meet Connor Long
(H/T The Mighty)