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06/07/2010

A True Hero for Ohio's Greatest Athletes

©2010 Jenna Hatfield Every once in awhile my job lets me meet really great Ohioans. I had such an encounter recently and felt the need to share his story with you. His name is James "Spudd" Sasak and he's a character with bright blue eyes and a great personality.

He's currently biking around Ohio, stopping at local courthouses and generally being awesome all for a great cause: Ohio's Special Olympics. I met him in front of our local courthouse on the evening of Friday, June 4th as the sky blackened and lightning flashed. I sent my kids up under the cover of the courthouse roof where they pretended to be super heroes while I conversed with someone who seems to be quite the super hero himself.

"North-eastern Ohioans have no idea what south-east Ohio is really like." He wasn't referring to our people; he was referring to the hills. Lots of them. We talked about his biking, his adventures and his passion for what he calls "Ohio's greatest athletes." There's no hype or pretense with these athletes. No 9 million dollar contracts. No sex scandals. Just a passion for what they do. Shouldn't we all strive for that?

We waited around to see if anyone else would show up despite the tornado warning and spotted funnel cloud in Tuscarawas County. We laughed as his assistant parallel parked for the first time, doing a much better job than I have ever done. We parted after taking an extra photo of my sons with him and his bike. My oldest son rang the bell; they were impressed with the "Bike Man."

Spudd is biking around to 31 county seats before arriving in Columbus on June 25th in time to lead the Special Olympians into (THE!) Ohio State University for the start of their Olympic games. This is the third year that he has done such a great thing. His passion for our state's greatest athletes comes from a neighbor who was, in his words, a "REAL ball player" but was made fun of because he was different. I swear, I want to hug this man.

He will be resting today, Monday, June 7, but the rest of his schedule is as follows.

6/8/2010 6:00 pm McArthur
6/9/2010 2:00 pm Jackson
6/10/2010 2:00 pm Waverly
6/11/2010 2:00 pm Hillsboro
6/12/2010 6:00 pm Lebanon
6/13/2010 2:00 pm Dayton
6/14/2010 Rest Day
6/15/2010 6:00 pm Sidney
6/16/2010 6:00 pm Lima 6/17/2010 6:00 pm Napoleon
6/18/2010 2:00 pm Bowling Green
6/19/2010 2:00 pm Fremont
6/20/2010 Rest Day
6/21/2010 2:00 pm Norwalk
6/22/2010 2:00 pm Bucyrus
6/23/2010 2:00 pm Marion
6/24/2010 2:00 pm Marysville
6/25/2010 2:00 pm Columbus

He meets at the courthouse in each place because even in the largest of counties, everyone knows where the courthouse is located. I encourage you to take your kids. Let them meet this man who has a passion for people that some others want to ignore. Let them meet some of Ohio's greatest athletes so that they understand that sports aren't just about the glory and the big bucks. Let them take part in a little bit of cool Ohio history.

If you can't make it out to meet Spudd, you can follow his blog, though remember that he's biking for days at a time so it will be updated on rest days and when they get a chance. You can also follow the Ohio Special Olympics on twitter and Facebook and there are other ways you can get involved with this year's games, whether via volunteering or the torch run or other activities. 

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This is an original Ohio Moms Blog post.

Jenna Hatfield, aka @FireMom, is a freelance writer and newspaper photographer. She blogs at Stop, Drop & Blog and The Chronicles of Munchkin Land. She is a Contributing Editor at Mom Central Technology.

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