Olympians Rosalyn Bryant Clark and her daughter Breanna are due to appear in a Memorial Day Parade beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, much to their surprise.
“It’s really funny, they just called us,” Bryant Clark said, explaining that the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival was delayed for two years due to the pandemic. “We’re both really excited about it. They’re sending a car to pick us up.”
Even though the pair live miles away from Garden Grove in Leimert Park, parade organizers have chosen to highlight their unique story.
Bryant Clark won a Silver Medal in the 1976 Montreal Olympics as a member of the 1600-meter relay team and set a new American record in the 400-meter dash which stood for eight years.
Later, she coached her daughter Breanna Clark to run track. Breanna competes in T20 category races and won a Gold Medal in the 400-meter race at the recent Tokyo Paralympics.
“She broke her own world record,” Bryant Clark said proudly, noting her daughter won the same Gold at the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
Breanna was diagnosed with autism at four years of age. Her mother noticed that Breanna and twin brother Rashard were growing at different rates. Even though she was learning her ABCs at two, in other areas of development, she was slow and Rashard was way ahead.
When her mother talked to the pediatrician, she was assured “everything’s fine.” But when it came time to go look at schools, she had Breanna tested.
“The way they presented it to me, they didn’t think she was really not capable of doing anything,” Bryant Clark said, noting autism was a bit unknown then. “That was in 1998 and nobody really knew a whole lot about it. My husband and I went to workshops and seminars and learned as much as we could. I knew my daughter could learn.”
“I started training her for track,” Bryant Clark said. “She ran her first meet when she was around 10. Later she joined the women’s track team at Dorsey High School.”
Breanna attended many regular English and math classes at school, along with resource classes to match her abilities.
“We put her in classes with the rest of the kids, that’s what helped her a great deal also,” Bryant Clark said, with a word to parents of special children. “Use all the resources, use them to benefit your child. And now, they’re much, much better than when my daughter was diagnosed.
“My advice is don’t give up and always challenge your child, because you’d be surprised about the things they can actually do.”
Breanna is 27 now and at 5’10” is a bit shorter than Rashard, her 6’5” twin brother, who also runs in national championships. But she is keeping up the pace.
“We will go for 2024 in Paris,” Bryant Clark said of the next paralympic competition. “That will be our third time.”
To see mother and daughter in person, visit the festival parade on Saturday.
“We look forward to welcoming everyone back to our annual free admission festival this coming Memorial Day Weekend,” Patrick Catlin, 2022 festival association president said. “After a two-year hiatus due to the worldwide health pandemic, I am happy to announce the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival will be back live this year, stronger than ever.”
The Festival is being mindful and in compliance with state and local current COVID 19 health protocols. Cleansing stations will be installed throughout the festival grounds for the general public’s safety.
The four-day, free admission Garden Grove Strawberry Festival will be held at Village Green Park located at the intersection of Main Street and Euclid Street in Garden Grove. Festival hours will be 1 to 10 p.m. on Friday, May 27; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, May 28 and 29; and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday, May 30.