NORMAN, Okla. - A seasoned Special Olympics volunteer, Catoosa high school senior Stephanie Ryan would be among the first to say the time spent with her athletes is rewarding.
That was definitely the case at Friday night's opening ceremony of the Oklahoma Special Olympics Winter Games. Ryan, who will be taking part in the Games for the third year in a row this weekend, was honored with the Stacie Shipman Youth Volunteer Award.
The award, named after a Special Olympics volunteer who died in 1998, represents a love for the Games, Stacie's father, Larry Shipman, said Friday night.
"It was a passion of Stacie," he said. "She had the same passion."
Ryan said she was surprised to be given the award, but accepted it humbly, saying it was "her athletes" that made it possible.
"... My athletes are the ones who got it for me. My team. It belongs to them," she said.
Ryan, who used the word "lifestyle" to describe her time with the Special Olympics, said Friday she has no plans to slow down.
"I've found my place. I've found where I belong," she said. "It's right here."
A duplicate of Ryan's award will be put on display at her school in Catoosa.
What's next on this weekend's Special Olympics docket? Check out the schedule.