Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

May 20, 2013

Special athletes get special support

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — It was special to say the least for a group of Garvin County law enforcement officers to see for themselves what an experience the state Special Olympics meet can be.

A group of four from the sheriff’s office here made the trip to Stillwater for the recent event that again brought together these special athletes for an annual series of games.

Sheriff Larry Rhodes led the way as he and Undersheriff Jim Mullett, along with deputies Bryon Gordon and Steve Mayhan, did their best to support the Special Olympic athletes who took part from Garvin County.

For Rhodes the entire experience was amazing. Even better, he got see what all the Special Olympics’ fundraising efforts are all about.

“It was good to see the money we raised in our Polar Plunge put forth to such a first class event,” Rhodes said.

“That was the most satisfying thing for me.”

The sheriff is referring to the region’s Polar Plunge event this past March, which raised money for the Special Olympics of Oklahoma.

Mullett agreed the experience really was a great one.

“We were invited to go help out,” Mullett said as he reflected on the Stillwater trip.

“It was a pretty big ordeal with over 4,600 Special Olympic athletes and maybe 7,000 people gathered to help support them,” he said.

“It’s such a thrilling event for us. I’m just really proud to support such a great event.”

The officers focused much of their attention on supporting the group of athletes from both Pauls Valley and Lindsay, along with taking part in a parade that included about 75 law enforcement vehicles.

The event is not new to Elizabeth Sam, one of PV’s Special Olympics coaches, but still a lot of fun.

Sam admits being a very competitive person and having a plenty of pride for what her kids did at the state meet, especially the gold medal winning 400 meter relay team of Lucas Brigger, Zeus DeVose, Dee Barber and Trey Dennis.

“We had a bunch of other winners,” Sam said. “We had tons of medals. We took 16 of them. Every one came home with a medal.”

Another big winner was Zach Autrey, who claimed six gold medals at the event.

Sam and Woody Bearden are the coaches for the local Special Olympics team.

“I want to say thank you to everybody who donated to our Polar Plunge,” Sam said.

“We couldn’t have gone without the money from Polar Plunge.”