Special Olympics honors Wothes
For the past 10 years, the Jay and Tammy Wothe family has been donating their time and talents to Special Olympics. Now, they are being recognized for that dedication and being honored with the Distinguished Service Award, Outstanding Family.
"We were very surprised to receive such a grand honor," Tammy said. "It's the first time I've been speechless."
The Frazee family helped form the Perham Area Special Olympics chapter 10 years ago. Their daughter, Amanda, has been a participant since then, and their other daughter, Maggie, has been volunteering and coaching for just as long.
Jay's business, Wothe Bait, has been a financial backer of the program for just as long.
The Perham chapter's coordinator Corinne Schattschneider nominated the family.
"I nominated them because the whole family is involved," she said. "The Wothe family was one of our founders, they're a financial supporter, they're coaches, promoters, cheerleaders, transporters. Any way we need them involved, they get involved."
When Tammy took Amanda to the Perham chapter's Special Olympics meeting 10 years ago, she thought she was just signing her daughter up to participate. She was immediately put in charge of public relations, and she's been involved ever since as well -- though she's no longer in public relations.
Since then, Amanda, 24, has earned 54 medals in rhythmic gymnastics and has spent time in other areas of Special Olympics including emceeing events, handing out awards, speaking engagements and more.
"A lot of people recognize Amanda," Tammy said.
She has also done numerous interviews for Special Olympics, including a piece that ran in Time magazine.
In the future, Amanda would like to be an official coach with Special Olympics, "helping others with their routines," she said. She has already reached the highest level in the state in her rhythmic gymnastics competing.
Maggie, 16, who was in kindergarten when her sister joined Special Olympics, has also dedicated her time beginning as a cheerleader for her sister, hauling equipment around, becoming a coach and being a part of the Youth Activation Committee.
Maggie has also been involved in area pageantry for several years, and is using that to get the word out about Special Olympics.
"Spread the Word to End the Word" is a national campaign to get people to pledge not to use the r-word (retard and retarded) anymore.
"I've been promoting that to schools and organizations to get the word out," Maggie said.
She has gotten 521 people to take the pledge -- which can be done online at www.r-word.org. Her platform for her pageants is "Label Jars not People," and she's raised about $2,000 to donate back to Special Olympics.
She has also started her own website at www.maggiewothe.weebly.com for people to take the pledge or donate. She also sells T-shirts for the cause.
"With or without a title, I'm going to promote Special Olympics," she said.
With the three women of the house on the go, involved in Special Olympics, pageants and more, Jay said he's more the behind the scenes guy.
"I'm more of a supporting role," he said with a smile. "Someone's got to support these girls and all they're involved in."
"There's always a place in Special Olympics no matter who you are," Maggie said. "Special Olympics is a family. It's a life-changing experience."
"I still don't feel like we do enough though," Tammy said of the honor of being named Outstanding Family. "We couldn't have done it on our own."
On Sept. 22, the family will receive their award during the statewide Special Olympics banquet at Treasure Island Resort and Casino in the Twin Cities. The Wothes said the event is like the Emmys of the Special Olympics.
Though they have to decide who will give the speech on behalf of the family when they accept the award, Tammy thinks it should be her husband.
"He hasn't gotten the limelight yet," she said.