By Jessica Pacetti
Ah…summer vacation, a time of going to the beach, or venturing off on vacations.
Yet one young woman is venturing off the treaded path of summer. Taeopae Wetterman is spending her summers as a coach for the Special Olympics team in Handover Park, Ill.
Since 2008, North Central College Junior Taeopae Wetterman has been a gymnastic, dance, cheer, and ice skating coach for the Elite Star Athletic Special Olympics.
People of various ages, ranging from five to thirty-five, and various special needs, from Down syndrome to Autism, can attend the Elite Star Athletic Special Olympics.
For five days, participants take part in various activities from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. that help promote healthy eating choices, more active lifestyles, and learn new athletic techniques while creating smiles and memories.
“It’s really a rollercoaster of emotions because it’s not an easy task and you are exhausted after the week,” says Wetterman. “But it’s such a rewarding experience and everyone is supportive and kind towards each other.”
On Sunday, the participants and coaches all come together to put on a show for the parents and other guests as well.
Afterward, awards are handed out to the participants. Some are MVP or Best New Comer.
“Athletes and campers have such fun. We dance around and we act goofy,” says Wetterman with a smile on her face.
This past summer, Wetterman was the head beams coach for gymnastics.
As head beams coach, Wetterman created different stations for different groups to help build upon skills and learn new skills as well.
“All around, it’s a good experience,” says Wetterman. “It’s cool to interact with one another and come all together for the summer. I love them all so much.”