Observations about some celebrations

Some general observations and celebrations while wondering why summer seems to fly by after the fourth of July.

Back-to-school items are already appearing on store shelves, while beach towels and barbecue items are moving to clearance aisles. Football will be here before you know it.

n But first a very special summer celebration: Congratulations to Bedford’s Christa Mereen, who marked the Independence Day holiday in Seattle, Washington representing Team PA at the Special Olympics National Games.

She made fireworks on the fourth, earning a bronze medal in the Women’s Mini-javelin; she went on to record top-five finishes in the 800-and-400-meter walks as well.

Mereen, 30, is a wonderful example of just how special the Special Olympics Pennsylvania program truly is. A long-time participant, enthusiastic competitor and passionate ambassador, SOPA’s 2016 Athlete of the Year shares her experiences and excitement with everyone she meets. As a Global Messenger she’s championed Special Olympics while speaking to groups from classes of junior high school students to stadiums full of athletes, coaches and volunteers, and even on Capitol Hill.

As part of a fifty-athlete delegation this month, she took her joyful message and contagious exuberance to the west coast, and represented her home region, her family, and her state extremely well.

With 15 years of competition already under her belt, it’s hard to imagine what her next goal will be; but knowing Christa, she’ll set it high and go after it with 110 percent effort.

n Summertime means local charity golf tournaments, and seemingly never-ending opportunities to hit the links for a good cause. From high school booster clubs to area non-profits, all are grateful to the business community and golfers for their support.

In Happy Valley, Coquese Washington puts her clout as the Lady Lions’ basketball coach behind her own tournament: Coquese’s Drive for the Centre County Women’s Resource Center. The 11th annual event takes place this Friday at the Penn State Blue Course. Having raised more than $200,000 through its first decade, the Drive raises important funds as well as awareness of the services provided to women and families in need.

The Penn State men’s basketball team supports Coaches vs. Cancer with their springtime golf tournament as well.

And the Nittany Lion Football team recently took part in their offense vs. defense Lift for Life to benefit Uplifting Athletes, a non-profit organization that works for the good of the rare disease community. Founded in 2003 by Penn State football player Scott Shirley in response to his father’s kidney cancer diagnosis, the organization reports an economic impact of more than $400 million, including support for families facing many forms of pediatric cancer.

There are so many ways to enjoy sports and recreation while also giving back; Penn State athletics has found many ways to harness the power of their athletic programs, not just “for the glory” but for a greater good.

Goodman Shaffer can be reached at kellie@bedfordcountychamber.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.