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Sue Paterno Honored by Athletes as Special Olympics Flame Extinguished

by on June 07, 2015 7:30 AM

The Special Olympics Pennsylvania Summer Games came to a close on Saturday afternoon as the cauldron's flame went out, marking the end of the competition and the start of a yearlong countdown.

All olympic competitions end with award ceremonies, but that's beside the point. After all, the special olympics motto is: "Let me win. But, if I cannot win, let me brave in the attempt."

The closing ceremonies were special this year, as board member Sue Paterno was honored by the athletes and a program that  she has given so much to over the years. 

"Sue knows that she’s coming up here to do the raffle drawing, but what she doesn’t know is that we have a very special token of appreciation to present not only to her, but to the entire Paterno family," said Matthew Aaron, CEO of Special Olympics Pennsylvania.

He presented Paterno a large ceramic bowl, painted by athletes at last year's summer games. The athletes made a number of bowls for the best friends and supporters of the special olympics, and there's no doubt Paterno tops that list.

"It’s too pretty to put anything in it. Thank you all very much," she said. "I get more out of this than you’ll ever believe. I love you all and I love being with you all the time."

Paterno says she will cherish the bowl, and it will serve as a reminder of the Summer Games for her all year long.

"When it gets really cold and I know summer sames are so far away, my bowl will keep me warm," she said.

As part of a family dedicated to service, especially in the State College community, Paterno has been active within special olympics for years. The family sponsors an annual run at Beaver Stadium to raise money for the organization, which allows developmentally disabled athletes to compete on a big stage.

"As much as you love her, I think she loves all of you even more," Aaron told the athletes gathered for the closing ceremony. "Sue has been a very dedicated board member for a very long time."

Almost on cue, an athlete yelled out "We love you." from the bleachers. Paterno was visibly touched by the gift, and wished all of the athletes well until she sees them again.

The flame was extinguished in the cauldron after it was used to light a torch that will travel across the nation to Los Angeles for the Special Olympics World Games. 

"That's going to be a long way," one athlete said from the stands.

And with that, the Summer Games came to a close for the 46th time.

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Zach Berger is the managing editor of StateCollege.com. He graduated from Penn State University in 2014 with a degree in print journalism. Zach enjoys writing about a variety of topics ranging from football to government, music, and everything in between.
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