First Special Olympics Walk-a-Thon raises $11,299

To the sound of a drum roll made by dozens of pounding feet and hands drumming on tables, Michelle Carson announced the amount of money raised by athletes from the Jackson County Special Olympics at an awards ceremony on November 8. Carson, Mistress of Ceremonies, said the amount raised by the proud young men and women was $8,099.87. With additional funds from Ashland Partners and a $500 donation from Channel 12 News Anchor Brian Morton, the grand total came to $11,299.83. The funds will be used for future athletic meets, transportation, uniforms, team lodging and more.
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
    

After the colors were presented by members of the Oregon Army National
Guard and the American Legion Honor Guard, Grants Pass Post #28, the
athletes marched in a triumphant procession around the First United
Methodist Church hall in Medford. Originally, the ceremony was to be a
half-mile walk a-thon to Alba Park from the church but heavy rain put a
halt to that plan.
   
After the procession, athlete Jim Mathers
recited the athlete’s oath and then Carson called each athlete to the
front of the room with an announcement of the amount of money that
person had raised in pledges. Her upbeat, enthusiastic voice revealed
her pride in each and every one, no matter how large or small the
amount of pledges collected. Each athlete received a certificate and a
donated prize from a business or organization. Carson made them feel
special and it showed.
   
Two young men, Nick Ceglia and Aron
Aarseth brought in over $1,000 each in pledges and they received green
vests with gold lettering as well as certificates and prizes. Some of
the prizes included lunches with coaches, lunch and a ride in a police
car with Medford Police Officer Greg Lemhouse (newly elected to Ashland
City Council), bowling games, gift cards and a "top Secret behind the
scenes tour of the National Guard Armory."
   
Carson and her
husband Kit, Shady Cove residents, organized the walk a-thon, the first
for the group. The Carsons wanted to make the fundraising an "event"
for the athletes. Others that helped at the event included Grandma
(Barbara) Hansen of Eagle Point, and Shady Cove Hardware Store donated
paint sticks for the signs the athletes carried.
   
Although
Kit has been involved in the Special Olympics since 1981, Michelle has
only been involved about a year. After attending one event she said she
was hooked and wanted to help. There was an open slot for fundraising.
Carson had never done that before but rose to the challenge. "It feels
so good to do it," she said.
   
After the success of the event,
the Carsons are already planning next year’s walk a-thon. They said it
will be possibly in September to give Mother Nature a chance to
cooperate with drier weather. The Carson’s may be reached at 772-1167.
For more information on volunteering or making donations call 779-7120.
By Margaret Bradburn
Of the Independent

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