This week’s Life in the Spotlight is the coordinator of the La Porte County’s Special Olympics Program. Born and raised in La Porte, Carol Schultz is a driven individual helping to make a world of difference in the lives of many of La Porte County.
Carol graduated from Purdue University with a major in Physical Education and Health. After graduating, she got married and moved to Pennsylvania for four years where she received a master’s degree in special education. When she moved back to La Porte she had children and began teaching Physical Education. She taught PE for three years before teaching Special Education at La Porte High School, which she taught for thirty-one years. Since then, Carol has been working with Special Olympics, a program she’s been involved with for thirty-one years now.
“Originally, Special Olympics was arranged for anyone to have their ‘own’ group of Special Olympics,” she explains. “I was with La Porte Community School Corporation so we had our own program.”
However, around twelve years ago, Special Olympics Indiana switched to county programs. “My friend, Diane Warnke, approached me to ask if I would take the coordinator’s position,” she says. Carol did take the position, and since has been running the show.
“Since I was already involved doing SO, the transition to coordinator was pretty easy, but is a continuing learning process,” Carol says about the position. Each year she receives a Program Information Guide, which communicates policies and outlines the sports for each year.
Carol does everything from setting up fundraisers, to prepping training and competition sites, to helping volunteer managers find volunteers, to sending in forms and paper work, and promoting the Special Olympics. These are only a few of her number of duties, and it’s easy to see how busy Carol keeps in making sure things run smoothly.
Out of everything she is involved in with Special Olympics, Carol’s favorite part of the experience is definitely the athletes. “Definitely our athletes!” she exclaims, “And, next best, our coaches and volunteers who put in hours and hours of time. None of us get paid money, only smiles and happiness from our Olympians. That is enough!”
Making sure the athletes enjoy the experience is vastly important to Carol. “The smile on their faces, the joy of success, the happiness of being with their friends, and the benefit of a worthwhile activity of movement to be healthy” are all things Carol works to ensure the athletes experience, and stand out as most important to her.
The Special Olympics has positively impacted Carol’s life, and she loves the work she does. “I'm very proud to be a part of it,” Carol explains. “I'm glad my physical and special education degrees can help me with the programs of Special Olympics.”
Carol hopes to see Special Olympics grow. She hopes to soon have more coaches in order to add to the amount of sports offered in La Porte’s program. “Special Olympics Indiana offers 20 sports, La Porte County offers seven. We would like to grow!” she says.
Carol is thankful for the education she has received which has helped her with this program. “My education has helped me be successful with the Special Olympics Program. I believe ours is a good program, but, it can be better,” she states.
Much of the help that has allowed her to do so much for the program has come from her husband, family, and board members. “(I have) a very supporting and helpful husband who promotes and runs our major fundraiser,” Carol says. She’s also thankful to her mother and family “who are supportive and are proud of my involvement with Special Olympics.”
Carol’s work has provided opportunity and fun for many in the La Porte County region, and La Porte County Special Olympics is clearly very lucky to have her.
For those looking to become involved with Special Olympics programs in La Porte, Carol urges you to do so by heading to specialolympics.org or calling her at 219-393-0636 for more information. Volunteers are always welcome and needed!