Looking Forward To Sports

Written by Cathy Womble, Lake Okeechobee News

She and her caregiver Gail Saum are always busy doing something, whether it’s fishing or swimming or playing bingo. They know how to have a good time. Sammie was born in September 1971 and was raised in Okeechobee. Sammie said she always liked school, but she doesn’t remember any particular favorite teacher. Her family lived out on the Prairie when she was growing up, and her mom drove a school bus.

Sammie graduated from Okeechobee High School and now lives with her brother and her sister-in-law. She is a member of the Social Butterflies group and plays bingo every week.

When the movie theater is open, the group goes to a movie every Wednesday morning, and she enjoys getting together with her friends, even though they practice social distancing. Sammie is a hugger, and she has a hard time with the restrictions on hugging, but she likes getting to see everyone even if it’s from a distance.

When she participates in Special Olympics sports, it is usually in bowling, and she said she will be happy when it starts up again.

Craig Webb is another who enjoys sports and will be happy when it starts up again, but he has found ways to entertain himself. Craig loves video games, and if his grandma doesn’t stop him, he stays up all night playing games and then wants to sleep all day. Craig is a lifelong Okeechobee resident, born in 1988, and he lives with his grandmother, Elaine Webb.

Craig went to the Okeechobee County public schools and graduated from Okeechobee High School at age 23. His official diagnosis is Down syndrome, his grandmother explained. His favorite teacher was his middle school teacher, Jane Ehrhart. “She realized Craig was capable of reading,” said Ms. Webb, “and she started him reading kids’ books.” Craig can now read well enough to manage the computer. He does not read well, but he gets by. He enjoys computer games and television and often has so much noise going it can be deafening at times, she laughed.

Craig is a member of the Social Butterflies group and enjoys bingo and the movies. Lately, the group has been going swimming out at Douglas Pond, but when Craig decides he has had enough of the heat, he will go plant himself in the car until Katlynn, his caregiver, gives in and packs everything up to go home.

When it comes to Special Olympics, Craig likes bowling a lot. He has done other events such as the softball throw, but it was done under duress, laughed his grandmother. One of his favorite things to do right now is to take drives around town. He enjoys telling his grandmother which direction to turn. She follows his directions to see where they will end up. They have found a lot of interesting places this way, she said.