Special Olympian gathers support for run
By Tony Graf firstname.lastname@example.org April 20, 2012 8:58PM
Police officer Kevin Brauch (from left), Special Olympics athlete Scott Wells and officer Debbie Schenk visit Milne Grove School on Wednesday, April 18, 2012, in Lockport, Ill. | Tony Graf~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 24, 2012 8:12AM
LOCKPORT — Scott Wells has been a Special Olympics athlete for more than 25 years, competing on the softball diamond, the golf course and the basketball court. He has taken to the bowling lanes and entered the boxing ring.
The Lockport man has won 30 gold medals.
On Wednesday, he was in a different arena, speaking to hundreds of students at the Milne Grove School gym in Lockport.
Along with Lockport police officer Debbie Schenk, he was raising awareness of the Special Olympics — and gathering support for the Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run.
The Torch Run is a fundraiser benefiting the Special Olympics. Milne Grove is joining several other Lockport schools in holding a coin drive to raise money for the Torch Run.
The run will be the week of June 12, culminating June 15 at Illinois State University in Normal. That weekend, the university hosts the Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games.
This spring, Lockport area schools supporting the Torch Run include Milne Grove, Kelvin Grove, Taft, Butler, Ludwig, Walsh and St. Dennis.
Wells spoke of the benefits of the games themselves.
“Since participating in the Special Olympics, I have learned to be confident, strong, a good competitor and a good teammate,” Wells said. “My family and my coaches have given me a lot of support through the years. Just because I have a disability doesn’t mean that I cannot achieve like you do. I am recognized and respected because of my dedication to Special Olympics.”
“In 2003, I was chosen to compete in the World Games in Dublin, Ireland, for the men’s volleyball team. We competed against other countries such as Ireland, Finland, Mexico, Jamaica and another team from the U.S. We got first place, and we brought home the gold medal,” he said as the students applauded.
“In 2010, I was chosen to compete on the men’s softball team in the National Games, which were held in Lincoln, Nebraska. We got second place, and we brought home the silver medal,” he said to another round of applause.
There are numerous legs of the Torch Run, beginning at locations throughout Illinois and ending at Illinois State University, Schenk said.
“At that point, we light the torch to kick off the Summer Games for Special Olympics,” she said.
For more information, visit the Special Olympics Illinois website at www.soill.org.