LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Marisa Scheef has become used to the stares she gets when out in public with her autistic son Alex Scheef. However, no one seems to notice anything different when he competes in Special Olympic competitions.
Alex was diagnosed with the disorder when he was three-years-old and has been competing in the competition since his middle school years. But in caring for her son Marisa Scheef said there are various challenges she has faced in normalizing this issue.
"It's made me a more patient, kind person. I appreciate having that world opened up for me," Marisa Scheef said. "There's a lot of beauty and strength and courage in those who have special needs."
Now at the age of 22, Alex Scheef is set to graduate from Frenship High School in May. Without help from the Special Olympics of the South Plains, there could have been more challenges Alex Scheef would have had to face.
Run entirely with donations from community members the Special Olympics of the South Plains has been raising funds and gaining contributions to special athletes across West Texas for years. One organization that has helped raise funds for the Special Olympics has been the Community Foundation of West Texas.
"All nonprofits whether it's Special Olympics, Food Bank people have a passion for what they're doing," Stephen Warren, president of the Community Foundation of West Texas, said. "Our very first gift to Special Olympics was back in 1990 for $700. Since we've given almost $44,000 to Special Olympics for this great organization. So what does that come from? It comes from great donors."
And as the funds keep coming in so do the experiences. The latest go-around Alex Scheef had with the Special Olympics was quite a memorable one, too.
But his experience came at a small price to his mother. In order to convince him to do a running event, one which he loathed, she promised a bag of skittles.
So when he finally got past the event his emotions overtook him.
"He actually didn't run that well but he still did win the gold and he was so excited thinking that it was his last running event that he went up to this beautiful girl and gave her a big hug and a kiss and cheered with her and kinda celebrated his gold medal," Marisa Scheef said.
The recipient of the kiss was the young woman who was presenting Alex Scheef with his gold medal after his race.
It just so happened that young girl was the daughter of Warren. However, Warren did was not aware that it was Alex Sheefe who acted out in such a kind way.
"I said wait a minute and I showed him a picture of Alex and said 'is this the boy?' and he was like oh my, yes," she said. "And he showed me a picture of his daughter, 'is this the girl?' and I said 'oh my, yes.'
All that may not have been possible without contributions from donors to the Olympics of the South Plains.
"I just love everything about it. I can't say enough good things," she said. "Special Olympics provides all the good things that sports and athletics do for everybody else. He knows that if he works hard and does well that he will get a medal and he loves medals."
Editor's Note: Eli Fierro, photojournalist for KCBD NewsChannel 11, contributed to this article.
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