by Nicole Reitz
When Monica Stoutenger, board president of Parents of Special Children, saw a need in the Fulton community, she jumped at the challenge.
Stoutenger is an advocate for her daughter, Madalyn Rupert, who has special needs, and recently created the group Doing it Our Way.
Doing it Our Way was developed to allow special needs individuals the opportunity to play sports. Madalyn has tried soccer before, but expressed an interest in playing basketball.
Stoutenger wanted to let her daughter play, but knew that a competitive team sport wouldn’t be very forgiving if she shot the ball in the wrong basket.
“I saw a need for this group in our community because of my own child,” she said. “I wanted my child to play sports because she wants to play them. Unfortunately, organized sports are not always so forgiving when we kick in the wrong goal or when our feet go left when they should be going right.
“Doing it Our Way will be just that,” said added. “We will play the same sports, dance the same dance, cheer the same cheers but we will do it our own way. If we do make those mistakes, it makes no difference.”
Madalyn has danced for seven years alongside her peers, but as she has gotten older, her ability has become more noticeable and she is taller than the other girls at her level.
Stoutenger hopes that by making her own group, individuals who want to participate would face the similar obstacles together.
Stoutenger began by putting the word out that she was looking for a gym to play basketball and soccer in. With cheerleading and dance also in mind, what developed was a partnership with Off Broadway Dance Studio. Cheerleaders from G. Ray Bodley High School agreed to volunteer their time and talents to teach participants in a five-week session.
Special needs individuals learned cheers and performed in front of an audience during half time at a Fulton vs. Fowler boys basketball game in December. Eight Doing It Our Way participants became cheerleaders for the night and wore borrowed Pop Warner uniforms.
To read the rest of the story, pick up a copy of The Valley News or subscribe today by calling 598-6397