May 7, 2012
By Ryan O'Keefe
|Eddie Ross always there to lend a hand.|
For Eddie Ross, it all started with a simple gesture from a co-worker asking what he was doing this weekend. When he responded not much, the co-worker then invited him out to volunteer at a local Special Olympics Texas competition. That was 28 years ago that Eddie says he got hooked on being involved with Special Olympics.
“I just fell in love with the program and the athletes. So, I got certified to coach and began to get involved on so many levels,” said Ross.
Eddie has been a staple at the Corsicana Spring Games, whether it’s getting sponsors to help donate food or round up enough people around town to come out and volunteer. It’s been a big part of his life and a big part of the community.
Corsicana is a small town located about 45 miles southeast of Dallas along I-45. Special Olympics was started in the area by two women, Kay Andrews and Karin Roberts, who were trying to get their kids more actively involved in the program. The delegation started off small, but has grown throughout the years and now has athletes competing year-round in bowling, track and field and golf.
At this year’s Corsicana Spring Games, the small town gathered to cheer on some of their local athletes in record fashion. They had 200 athletes compete and 300 volunteers show up to help out.
“It was unbelievable. We normally have about 50-60 volunteers, some years it’s been around 25 and we’re all scrambling around. But this year we had such tremendous support from high school kids, to college students (Navarro College) and even companies with their employees showed up to volunteer. It’s just such a blessing to see them all come out, “said Ross.
This was just another memorable moment that Eddie can chalk up to his time being involved in Special Olympics. He talks passionately about the athletes and the amazing things he’s seen them accomplish. It becomes a testament to his dedication to the organization.
“They work so hard training to go to a local meet or state competition and showcase what they can do. I’ve seen some pretty amazing things,” said Ross.
He then begins to describe a 200 meter race he once witnessed at a state meet, where he saw one athlete take off at the beginning of the race and was easily going to win, when he looked back and saw his teammate had fallen down. The athlete then went back to his fallen teammate, picked him up and they walked toward the finish line together. When asked why he stopped running, the athlete responded that he couldn’t leave his friend behind.
Corsicana Special Olympics is a family affair that encourages the entire community to get involved. Eddie says his entire family is involved. His wife has volunteered for 20 years, his daughter has been helping out since she was a little, and even his grandkids are helping out. The future of Corsicana Special Olympics Eddie says rests in the daughters of the late Dave Bentz. Bentz was an outstanding Special Olympics coach in the Corsicana area. Everyone knew him and everyone liked him. When he passed away his daughters, Jessica and Chrissy took over and began coaching all the sports he was involved in.
Still, when you think of Corsicana Tigers delegation it’s hard not to think of Eddie. He’s been giving back for so long that he’s been not only been a fixture at the local competitions, but at Summer Games and Fall Classic.
“He does it with boundless energy and enthusiasm,” says Heart of Texas Area Director Tommy Smith.
Eddie says he’s been busy on the speaker’s circuit talking to various schools and Rotary Clubs about volunteering. He quickly shifts the focus to talk about getting all 300 volunteers to come back next year for Spring Games. So what’s the secret I ask?
“I just tell them, if you ever been to one, you’ll be to more,” Eddie says.
With 28 years and counting, I believe he’s pretty accurate in that assessment.