Making a Difference: Inspired by Usain Bolt, Tri-State teen goes the distance for Special Olympics

AURORA, Ind. - Our weekly feature shines the spotlight on those unsung heroes among us: people who do good things for others every day, whether as a volunteer or as part of their job. Read on to find out how you can tell us about someone you know who’s making a difference!

Who: Jacob Eldridge
What he does: Participates in and volunteers for the Special Olympics
Where he does it: Manchester, Ind.

Jacob Eldridge was the 2013 Special Olympics Athlete of the Year for Area 9 in Indiana. The 17-year-old distance runner will represent Ripley, Ohio and Dearborn counties at the 2014 Special Olympics USA National Games June 14-21, in Princeton, N.J. 

Eldridge (above right, with assistant track coach Jimmy Laub) began running more than five years ago, after reading about the four-minute mile. With inspiration from professional runners--namely Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt--Eldridge set his mind on running, with the goal of beating the four-minute mile record.

In addition to training two to six days a week for the National Games, Eldridge volunteers his time at athletic events. He often acts as a gofer for Gregory Townsend, Special Olympics Indiana delegation coordinator for Ripley, Ohio and Dearborn counties.

He also helped set up for an Indiana High School Athletic Association women’s basketball tournament and the 2014 Special Olympics opening ceremonies at Perfect North Slopes.

“I just enjoy helping people out, especially Special Olympics athletes,” Eldridge said.

How you can make a difference

Special Olympics Indiana has two types of volunteer roles available.

  1. Class A volunteers serve as coaches and assistant coaches. Individuals who wish to fill these roles are certified and must go through a background check and orientation.
  2. Class B volunteers assist with individual events as scorekeepers, timers and recorders.

Volunteers are needed for the Special Olympics Polar Plunge, Townsend said. The event is Saturday, Feb. 22 at Versailles State Park. To assist with the Polar Plunge or other events, contact Gregory Townsend.

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