MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

November 14, 2012

Special Olympian aids teammate


— By Cathy Spaulding

Times Staff Writer

Winning several meets wasn’t the only thing Charity Pickup accomplished at the Special Olympics Cherokee Country Area Aquatics meet Thursday.

She helped her Oklahoma School for the Blind classmate, Jacob Morgan, finish as well.

Dozens cheered as Pickup stroked Jacob’s head and talked him through his lap at Muskogee Swim and Fitness Center’s pool. OSB was one of six teams competing in the meet, a qualifying event for the state Special Olympics meet in January.

“I knew he could do it,” said Charity, an OSB sophomore from Jenks. “He just needed motivation. I talked to him and told him what strokes to take. He’s also one of my classmates. Seeing him touch that wall gave me a sense of accomplishment and made me so happy.”

Jacob, a Muskogee sophomore, did not win the heat. But he made his mother, Kim Morgan, proud.

“He showed it’s not what he can’t do, it’s what he can do,” Morgan said. “It’s an awesome journey, and we have awesome team members.”

Teams came from Muskogee, Fort Gibson, Okmulgee and Tulsa. Each came with a boisterous cheering squad.

Kyle Bloomer and Amy Shackelford of Pathways Adult Learning Center waved and screamed as 26-year-old Bryant Dittus finished his lap.

“This is a big deal for him,” said Bloomer, community coordinator at Pathways. “He loves to compete, loves to swim, loves the attention. And he loves cheering others on the team.”

Pathways is a Christian learning center based at Kirk of the Hills in Tulsa. Pathways specializes in spiritual formation, independence and life skills. Bloomer said Pathways brought 14 swimmers.

Kevin Moore of Muskogee cheered his 10-year-old daughter,  Madison Moore, onto her first victory in the backstroke. This was the Pershing student’s first time to compete.

“I love it. It’s great,” Moore said after watching Madison’s swim. “We have a pool at home, but it’s awesome to see her with other swimmers and other kids and having a blast.”

Oklahoma School for the Blind students Christian Rosales, 13, of Fort Gibson and Joey Owens, 12, of Broken Arrow cheered and congratulated each other after finishing first and second in their heat.

“It feels great to almost win,” Joey said. “I was second place.”

And how did he feel after that.

“I feel cold,” Joey said.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.