Special Olympics is My Life
May 18, 2011
Even before he got involved with Special Olympics, Ted realized the importance of participating in sports and he was there to help and encourage the athletes.
Ted Rutt -- surrounded by fellow officers from all over the United States -- carries the torch to the Special Olympics USA National Games in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Officer Rutt’s passion is hardly surprising. When he was growing up, his mother, Carol, ran a day-care center at their house. Many of the babies under her care had special needs. To young Ted these kids were “just like his brothers and sisters.”
In high school he started coaching, and began organizing some children with intellectual disabilities into teams to play sports. Even before he got involved with Special Olympics, Ted realized the importance of participating in sports and he was there to help and encourage the athletes.
During the 2010 USA National Games in Nebraska, Ted poses with one of the athletes.
Acceptance and Confidence
Talking about his involvement and the joy it brings to everyone involved, Ted rattles off names of athletes he has coached in soccer, basketball and swimming. He explains that the impact of Special Olympics is about acceptance and building athletes’ confidence. Rutt describes how parents often try to protect their kids with special needs from getting hurt or embarrassed, but participation in Special Olympics provides them with a welcoming and accepting place to train and grow.
Ted explains that sports teach athletes that “it’s ok to make mistakes, you can fall down and then get up and try again. I watch athletes coming to events, becoming more confident in talking to people, no longer hiding.”
With fellow police officers, Rutt is an enthusiastic participant of grassroots efforts to raise funds for Special Olympics so that even more people have a chance to participate. Some of Ted’s fondest memories are from participating in the final leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, carrying the Flame of Hope to the Special Olympics World Games.
Sharing his Passion
Ted is eager to get others engaged in Special Olympics. Volunteering has become a family activity. The Rutt clan cheered for Ted when police officers camped on the rooftop of a local Krispy Kreme shop to raise funds. Officer Rutt encourages colleagues in the police force to participate, especially the “grumpy” ones. “As police officers we see bad things. When I think I cannot go any further in my job, my involvement with Special Olympics gives me the drive to keep moving forward.” As a mentor working with teens interested in joining law enforcement, Ted Rutt teaches youth that “volunteering and community involvement is what makes you an exceptional law enforcement officer.” Some of his trainees have gone on to become police officers and are still volunteering with Special Olympics.
Officer Ted Rutt explains, “Special Olympics is my life. I will be involved until the day the good Lord takes me away!”
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