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Special Olympics athletes energize the crowd at the 6th annual Paterno family Beaver Stadium run

Centre County Special Olympian Matt Prosek encourages the participatnst to “Bump It Up” before the 6th Annual Paterno Family Beaver Stadium Run to benefit the Special Olympics on Sunday.
Centre County Special Olympian Matt Prosek encourages the participatnst to “Bump It Up” before the 6th Annual Paterno Family Beaver Stadium Run to benefit the Special Olympics on Sunday. CDT photo

Matt Prosek had a request for the thousands of runners and walkers at this year’s Paterno Family Beaver Stadium Run Sunday.

Prosek, speaking to the crowd before the 11 a.m. start time for the 3-mile portion of the event, said that he and his friend Greg Focht had decided to “bump it up” before running in this year’s race. He asked everyone else to do the same: bump up the speed, bump up the effort and bump up the excitement as they ran the course on a sunny Sunday.

“Now go out there and bump it up,” Prosek said to cheers and applause.

Now in its sixth year, the event drew just less than 3,500 participants Sunday and brought in more than $400,000 in proceeds. The money benefits the Pennsylvania Special Olympics and the athletes, like Prosek and Focht, who compete in the event.

One person who definitely bumped it up Sunday was Ryan Foster, who was the first to cross the finish line at the stadium’s 50-yard line for the 3-mile run in 14 minutes and 42 seconds. It was his first time running in the event, and Foster said he enjoyed the atmosphere of the race. Foster, an assistant coach with the Penn State track team and a former member of the team as a student, said he has seen Special Olympics athletes train locally.

“It’s a good way to come out and support the organization,” Foster said. “They do an amazing job.”

While Foster ran as an individual in Sunday’s run, others ran on teams in support of loved ones.

Prosek, Focht and others wore bright green shirts that read “Running This Race in Memory of Wayne Focht” on the back. Greg’s brother Steve said their father died a few months ago, and the local Texas Roadhouse restaurant sponsored shirts for a team to wear. Some employees at the restaurant also participated in the event.

Cindy Morse, of Jersey Shore, Tracy Rothrock, of Williamsport, and almost 20 other participants each wore identical shirts that read “Team W2K” on the breast. They’ve gotten a team together and competed in the 3-mile run for the past three years. Morse said the course is fun, and as a Penn State fan, it’s really nice finishing inside Beaver Stadium.

Both agreed that the best part is helping the Special Olympics. The “W2K” name stands for Will, a family friend of Rothrock, and Kali and Kera, nieces of Morse. All have special needs, and Will is a Special Olympics athlete.

“We really feel for the cause and know personal friends and family that benefit from this,” Morse said.

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