SPECIAL OLYMPICS: ‘Fab Five’ represent Team NJ in gymnastics

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HIGHTSTOWN — Molly Hebert is an Olympian.


She proudly tells people that — sometimes even to get out of doing chores — with a wide smile.


Hebert, from Ocean, is competing in gymnastics this week for Special Olympics. The 22-year-old participates in the All Around, Balance Beam, Floor Exercise, Uneven Bars and Vaulting. This is her sixth year doing gymnastics.


While the uneven bars are her best event, her favorite thing about competing is the friendships she’s made with her team — Alyssa Sims, Courtney Muns, Coach Shannon Schafer and Coach Donna Roberto.


“I love my team,” Hebert said. “I have the two best teammates and two favorite coaches.”


“They have a really great bond,” said Coach Shannon Schafer. “We call ourselves the Fab Five.”


The team trained together for the past nine months twice a month, alternating practices between Schafer’s gym and Roberto’s gym. Hebert continued to practice at her local gym 2-3 times a week.


Schafer’s gym in Lawerenceville has hosted Special Olympics events for New Jersey in past, and was asked to coach Team New Jersey for the national competition. She has worked with special needs kids for 16 years.


“You have to understand the needs of each student,” she said, explaining it’s hard for some people to alter their teaching style for special needs kids. “For me, it’s easy to go between the two.


The finals for Team New Jersey in gymnastics starts at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Peddie School.

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