PARKERSBURG - More than 500 Special Olympians were on hand Friday night at the opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics West Virginia fall games at Parkersburg South High School.
John Corbett, CEO of Special Olympics West Virginia, presented the J. Fred Earley Sportsmanship Award and the Lois E. Earley Spirit of Volunteerism Award during the ceremony.
Two Parkersburg residents, Cheryl Baxter and Angie Evans, were the winners of the volunteerism award and the sportsmanship award went to Upshur County athlete Roger Harris.
Photo by Jeffrey Saulton
The Gilmer County delegation at the Special Olympics West Virginia wait for their turn to enter the auditorium for the opening ceremony Friday night at Parkersburg South High School.
Baxter has been active with the Special Olympics since 1992. She said she got involved after speaking with a volunteer who was visiting businesses to gain support for the organization.
"One of their representatives came in one day when I worked at NOE Office Equipment and they were needing volunteers, they were needing monetary support and and they were needing all kinds of other things," she said. "I got involved from there."
Baxter said over the years she has traveled across West Virginia in her work with Special Olympics.
Special Olympics West Virginia kicked off Friday night with its opening ceremony in the Parkersburg South High School auditorium.
Delegations representing 28 counties were on hand for the event.
"I've done the softball during the summer games, worked with the polar plunge at Canaan," she said.
Baxter said there are many things that keep her active with Special Olympics.
"I love doing this," she said. "I enjoy the enthusiasm and the stamina the athletes show; they have no limitations in their hearts; they give everything they've got.
"They go full throttle."
Baxter said she enjoyed working with the Special Olympics summer sports camp in Gilmer County.
"I get close to that group since there is a smaller group," she said. "I can work more one on one with them. That's a real draw for me."
Baxter said she looks forward to another year of working with Special Olympics.
Today's events are to begin at 8 a.m. with the volleyball tournament in the Rod Oldham Athletic Center at Parkersburg South High School and at 9 a.m. they are scheduled to begin the flag football and football skills.
The awards will be given during the closing ceremonies at 1:15 p.m. Sunday in the Rod Oldham Athletic Center.