Local Special Olympians share experiences

Three local athletes competed at the 2022 Special Olympic Games and two came home with medals.

Kimberly Paxton of Perrysburg led the Ohio contingent into the stadium during the opening ceremonies.

Her unified volleyball team took bronze.

Paxton and Anne Schooley, who competed in swimming, attended the Aug. 15 Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities meeting and shared their experiences at the games, held June 5-10 in Orlando, Florida.

Paxton was particularly impressed with the six-passenger private jet that took her to Orlando.

“That was a lifetime experience,” she said.

Board member Rebecca Ferguson asked Paxton what her favorite memory was.

She said during the 11 days she was in Orlando, she “kept soaking it all in.”

Paxton said that athletes and non-athletes make up a unified team, and they played three to four matches for three days up until the medal competitions.

She said she trained with Team Ohio once.

Schooley, of Bowling Green, placed third in the 100-meter butterfly, fifth in the 200-meter freestyle and eighth in the 100-meter freestyle.

“It was really fun and really hot,” she said.

One of her favorite memories was when Animal Kingdom at Disney World closed the park down and allowed only Special Olympics athletes in.

Barb Markin competed in bocce but couldn’t make the meeting because she had to work.

Jennifer Krouse, interim recreation and wellness manager, read a statement prepared by Markin, who lives in Bowling Green.

This was her first time on a plane and her USA Games coach helped her relax.

She said she had tears in her eyes from the excitement and nerves during her competitions, Krouse read.

Markin competed in three tournaments and placed sixth in the last competition.

She also enjoyed having Animal Kingdom open just for athletes, Krouse said.

Markin has remained in touch on Facebook with friends she made from the Ohio contingent.

“We’re very proud of our athletes and their dedication,” said Superintendent Brent Baer.

“This is not the last time you’re going to compete, right?” asked Ferguson.

“Nope,” replied Schooley.

The Special Olympics USA Games are held every four years. More than 5,500 athletes and coaches from the 50 states and Caribbean made the journey to Orlando.

To qualify, an athlete must have competed in their state competition and placed in the top three in their event. The state then selects athletes from those eligible.

Also at the meeting, the board learned that the direct support professional workforce shortage continues. The board will use $16,400 in grant money to provide tokens of appreciation to the 650 DSPs working in Wood County during DSP Recognition Week in September.

The board also accepted the title of the Nichols Home on Sandusky Street in Perrysburg.

The agency had maintained a lease on the home since 1995 and accepted the title after being named the beneficiary in the Nancy J. Nichols Trust.

Special Olympics

The Special Olympics USA Games are held every four years. More than 5,500 athletes and coaches from the 50 states and Caribbean made the journey to Orlando.

To qualify, an athlete must have competed in their state competition and placed in the top three in their event. The state then selects athletes from those eligible.