Stillwater News Press

May 8, 2013

Special Olympics athletes honored at rowdy arena

By Chase Rheam
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — Thousands of Special Olympics athletes kept Oklahoma State University’s Gallagher-Iba Arena true to its nickname of being the rowdiest arena in the country Wednesday.

The venue hosted the opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics Oklahoma Summer Games.

Emcees Larry Reece and John Holcomb kicked off the ceremonies by welcoming all athletes.

President and CEO of Special Olympics Oklahoma Adrian DeWendt also welcomed everyone and announced head coach of Special Olympics Oklahoma Barry Switzer would not be able to attend for the first time in his 40-plus years of service. However, Switzer wished all athletes well, DeWendt said.

Attendees were awed by the acrobatics of multiple mascots, including the Tulsa Shock’s Volt the Shock Fox and the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics’ Agent Roz.

Numerous awards were given out during the event, including the Synar Award for Excellence given to the city of Stillwater. Mayor John Bartley accepted the award. University of Tulsa basketball coach Danny Manning presented the Spirit Award to Daylon Farmer from the Kiamichi area.

“The Spirit Award recognizes a Special Olympics athlete who, despite serious challenges, has aspired to overcome and meet those challenges with grace and dignity, courage and determination,” Manning said.

OSU equestrian coach Larry Sanchez presented the 2013 Family of the Year Award to the Brown family, who have been involved with Special Olympics for six years.

University of Oklahoma basketball coach Lon Kruger presented the 2013 Fankhauser Volunteer of the Year award to Joshua Nix from the Red River area.

“Joshua has established himself as an exceptional volunteer with Special Olympics athletes,” Kruger said.

OSU basketball coach Travis Ford presented the Coach of the Year Award to Beatrice Dougherty from the Cherokee Country area.

“She constantly puts the needs of her athletes in front of her own, from early morning departures to late night competitions,” Ford said.

The 2013 Athlete of the Year Award was presented to Lyndsey Streeter of Vinita. Special Olympics Oklahoma Board Chairman Steve Carson presented the award.

The Executive Director of Oklahoma’s Law Enforcement Torch Run Mark Wollmershauser was introduced. More than $380,000 were raised through events held by the Law Enforcement Torch Run. Representatives of more than 114 agencies were on hand. Many of them lined the walkway as Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper Jennifer Fisher brought the flame to the stage.

The event concluded as Carson led all athletes in the Special Olympics Oath.

The Special Olympics Oklahoma Summer Games continue Thursday and Friday.