Tyrone Schultz, 37, has been competing in the Special Olympics for as long as he can remember. And he has won more medals than he can hold, almost.
Last year, his team won the gold medal in the 4-by-400 relay, a big accomplishment in that race.
“We beat Fallon,” he said. “The hotshots of the four-by-four.”
An athlete who competes in basketball, track and field, bowling, softball and soccer and coaches in swimming, Schultz knows the value of the games.
“It helps me meet more people in all different towns,” he said. “And it keeps me more concentrated.”
To make sure the Special Olympics, an event that receives no federal or state funding, continues, Schultz plans to jump into the frigid waters of Lake Tahoe as part of the Polar Plunge.
Participants, known as plungers, must raise at least $125 through pledges, and have ranged in age from 7 to 70. Individuals are welcome, as are teams.
This year’s event, which is an annual fundraiser at Lake Tahoe’s Zephyr Cove, will begin with registration at 10 a.m. March 29.
Ted Rupert, general manager of Rupert’s Autobody, has been participating since the event’s inception in 2004.
His inspiration, he said, are the athletes, such as Schultz.
“Seeing the excitement they get from doing their sports makes me want to do it every time,” Rupert said. “It makes a big change in the lives of those guys.”
Although the idea of jumping in the freezing waters of Lake Tahoe can seem daunting, Rupert has found a solution.
“You can’t think about it,” he said. “You just do it.”
Schultz has a similar philosophy.
“You just go for it,” he said.
He’s hoping to raise the $125 necessary to participate. He’s at $45 now.
“It helps raise money for Special Olympics,” Schultz said. “It helps us do our training and get our medals. When people donate, it helps make people happy.”