ShareThis Page

Rewards go beyond winning at Special Olympics

| Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, 7:24 p.m.
Trib Total Media
Washington County Special Olympics athlete Roger Muzina, 27, competes in the giant slalom event during the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Winter Games held recently at Hidden Valley Resort. Guy Wathen | Trib Total Media
Washington County coach Ruth Corrin (left), 84, jokes with Bill Cook, 16, of Charleroi during the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Winter Games on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, at Hidden Valley Resort. Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Jill DeGeorge, 21, of North Huntingdon competes in the giant slalom during the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Winter Games on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, at Hidden Valley Resort. Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Patrick Guyer, 16, of Dillsburg winds up to launch a snowball while waiting for his turn to compete in the giant slalom during the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Winter Games on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, at Hidden Valley Resort. Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review

Kristie Reid needed only to see her sister's face when she won her first Special Olympics medal in track and field to know what the organization can do.

The improvement in Deana Reid's self-esteem was immediate. Deana has Down syndrome, Reid said, and although she had gym class at her school for special needs students, she hadn't experienced anything quite like Special Olympics.

“As far as a competitive environment with a reward, no,” said Reid, 55, of Greenfield. “I think I still have a picture of her from that first event. She's boogieing down the track like, ‘I can do this. This is cool.' ”

Reid became a volunteer coach for Special Olympics in 1984. Her sister passed away in 2009 at age 50, but Reid still coaches. On Monday, she was with members from the Allegheny County delegation at Hidden Valley for the skiing competition of the 37th Special Olympics of Pennsylvania Winter Games.

“Especially with the skiing, we love to get these guys doing things that their neighbors do and their classmates do and their families do,” Reid said. “We've had parents cry because they'll say, ‘We'll try it, but we don't know,' and suddenly we're coming down a hill, and the parents are crying saying they never thought it would happen.”

One of the athletes competing on Monday was Jill DeGeorge, 21, of Irwin.

“It's great,” DeGeorge said. “It's really fun, and not scary.”

Reid worked with DeGeorge for eight years to get her off the beginner's hill and ready to compete at the Special Olympics for the first time in 2012. DeGeorge's twin sister, Shari, decided a few years ago that she didn't want to ski anymore, but Jill DeGeorge stuck with it and owns her own equipment.

“Just seeing her going through the gates for the first time, she was concentrating so hard, and it was just like, ‘All right. You did it.' ” Reid said. “It's that kind of thing (you enjoy), seeing individuals going forward.”

Reid met her husband, an assistant speedskating coach, through Special Olympics. When they married, approximately 40 athletes attended the wedding.

Reid attended the World Games in 1995 and 2009, and encouraged athletes to meet people from different countries.

“You get to see the athletes socialize, and they're in their own environment and they're relaxed,” she said. “It all goes back to self-esteem. Even with my sister being in it, you can't really focus on one memory because there are so many wins here.”

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.