Local Special Olympic athlete loses battle with cancer

Posted at 12:55 PM, Nov 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-08 19:30:13-05

A local Special Olympian passed away Tuesday. Olivia Quigley of Elm Grove died from cancer at the age of 25.

"She was so young, so that's the tragedy there,” said Special Olympics Track Coach Kay Fronk.

Fronk is saddened by the loss of one of her most determined athletes.

"She was such a fighter, she just wasn't going to let it get her down," Fronk said.

Quigley lived with autism. She found her calling for track back in high school at Milwaukee Lutheran.

Early success spring boarded her to an ambitious goal through Special Olympics.

"She knew exactly when the world games were, where they were being held and what she needed to do to qualify," Fronk said.

But five months before, life as Quigley knew it changed forever when she was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. Quigley told doctor's she would only begin chemotherapy under one condition; that she could compete in the games.

"She was going to go no matter what, so I didn't know how the events were going to play out," Fronk said.

Quigley shattered all expectations by winning two gold medals and a silver as a sprinter in 2015. Her story made headlines not just locally, but around the world.

"That's the way she was, she was bound and determined to succeed," Fronk said.

While Quigley is best known for her success on the track, she was also a beloved member of the staff at the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. Quigley let her energetic spirit shine through until the very end -- after cancer spread to her brain.

"I was very glad I had her in my life for that short period of time," Fronk said.

Quigley became the first athlete with special needs to be nominated for ESPN's Top 25 Female Athletes in 2015.