BY: USA GAMES CORRESPONDENT, MIKE GASTINEAU
Amanda Geno remembers her first experience with Special Olympics. At the time, she wasn’t very happy about it.
Geno was a freshman at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri. She was a member of the cross country team and was less than thrilled when she was told by the coach he wanted the entire team to participate in a Special Olympics competition.
“He told us we were volunteering, but he also told us it was mandatory,” she said. “I had no idea what we’d be doing. I just knew we had to get out of bed on a Saturday morning and be somewhere by 7 a. m.”
The event was a motorized wheelchair race on a slalom course. Upon her arrival, it didn’t take long for Geno to change her attitude.
“We got there, and the athletes were just having a blast. There was one kid who just flying around us on his chair and making us laugh. I realized right away this was going to be awesome.”
Geno went from reluctantly answering the alarm clock in the early hours of Saturday morning to someone who has been committed to Special Olympics now for 15 years. She is a law enforcement officer with the Lee’s Summit Missouri Police Department (just outside Kansas City) and plays a big role in the yearly Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) for Special Olympics Missouri.