Brendan Rooker and Lester Loner were named Special Olympics athlete and volunteer for January.
Brendan Rooker, son of James and Tracy Rooker, has been involved in Special Olympics for the past 12 years. During that time, he has participated in several sports, including Basketball, Equestrian, Long Distance Walking, Soccer, and Volleyball.
Currently, Brendan is training in the sports of Bowling and Snowshoeing as he prepares for regional and state competitions. He will compete at the Central Regional Bowling Event scheduled at the Bellefonte/State College Lanes on February 19, 2023. Brendan will be competing in the singles division, with this event serving as a qualifier for the State Bowling Competition scheduled to be held in York in March.
Brendan is also scheduled to compete at the Pennsylvania State Winter Games in Snowshoeing, which will take place at the Seven Springs Resort on February 14 thru 19, 2023. This is his first time participating in snowshoeing as he will compete in the 100-meter, 200-meter, 800-meter, and the 4×100 meter relay. When asked about his involvement, Brendan stated that he, “enjoys Special Olympics and being with my friends. I like to train, and it helps me get in better shape and makes me feel good.”
Besides being involved in Special Olympics, Brendan works at Maxworks at Hope Enterprise and enjoys participating in the Superstars Drum program held at the YMCA.
Lester has been involved with Lycoming County Special Olympics for over 38 years. During that time, he has served in various roles for the county, including being the Training Coordinator, Assistant Fundraising Coordinator, and County Manager. In addition, he has participated as a Unified Partner in Bowling, Golf, Cross Country Skiing, and Snowshoeing. On the state level, Loner has served as a Clinician for Track and Field, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country Skiing, and Snowshoeing. He was named Pennsylvania Coach of the year, County Manager of the year, and received recognition as the North America Special Olympics Coach of the year.
Currently, Loner serves as the County Training Coordinator. His responsibilities include ensuring that all athletes and volunteers receive proper training and instructions in all the 13 Olympic-type individual and team sports presently offered in the county. Each volunteer must attend a training school and work with the athletes for a minimum of 10 hours to gain their certification. Every athlete needs to train a minimum of 8 weeks before they can compete in any competition. Loner is responsible for keeping track of all records and submitting the information to the state to ensure that all athletes and volunteers fulfill their requirements.
When asked why he has stayed involved with Special Olympics for as long as he has, Loner said, “I enjoy the excitement, dedication, and commitment that the athletes show at every training and competition opportunity that they have.” In addition, “the volunteers are wonderful to work with, and we all receive more in return than we give. It is just a wonderful organization to volunteer with.”