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Veteran Special Olympics volunteer and educator named Golden Hoosier

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Community News, Community News & People in the News, Featured

Published on July 03, 2019 with No Comments

Lorrie Woycik works with Special Olympians during swimming practice at the Valparaiso Family YMCA pool. A retired educator, Woycik has devoted 50 years of her life to Special Olympics.

Lorrie Woycik of Valparaiso was presented a Golden Hoosier Award by Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center on June 24, said State Sen. Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso).

Charbonneau nominated Woycik for her lifetime of service and commitment to special-needs children.

Woycik became the first special education teacher in Valparaiso when she started working with special-needs children in 1957 at the former Vale Day School.

In 1969, she began coaching with Special Olympics, a sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, and served as a coordinator and coach for more than 18 years. At age 88, Woycik continues her work with Special Olympics. This year marks her 50th anniversary as a volunteer.

Woycik helped start the Porter County Association for Retarded Children. In addition to coaching Special Olympics, Woycik takes part in the annual Polar Plunge at Valparaiso University to support special-needs athletes.

Woycik is also involved with a special-needs ministry at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Valparaiso, where a service is held twice a month specifically for special-needs children.

In a 2018 interview for receiving a Spirit Award for volunteerism from United Way of Porter County, Woycik said volunteering “makes me feel good. I still feel a need. “

Special Olympians, Woycik continued, have no prejudices, but “take you at who you are. I’ve learned a lot more from them than they’ve leafrned from me. My goal is to make sure people known that someone with special needs is a blessing.”

Woycik added, “For me, this is a calling from God. I always felt, if I would have said no, what an awful life I would have had. My heart fell right into it and never left.”

For Woycik, money does not equal success. “What equals success,” Woycik said, “is when one of my Special Olympians says, ‘Miss Lorrie, look what I did.’”

“My congratulations go to Lorrie on being named a Golden Hoosier,” Charbonneau said. “Lorrie has dedicated her life to serving our community, and her work with Special Olympics has made a positive impact on many lives. She truly embodies what it means to be a public servant.”

The lieutenant governor’s office accepts nominations each year for the Golden Hoosier Award. The award recognizes outstanding Hoosiers for their lifetime of service to their communities, and is the highest honor bestowed on those in Indiana who are at least 65 years old.

 

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