Westminster teen-ager to join inaugural parade with Special Olympians 7 others from state will also participate

January 15, 1993|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

Most people feel lucky to get one glimpse of a first family in a lifetime.

During her first visit to the nation's capital Wednesday, Westminster teen-ager Megan Roland will share the limelight with them.

Megan is one of eight Maryland Special Olympians who will march in the inaugural parade.

"She has been so excited about this," said her mother, Peggy, a volunteer for the Special Olympics who also works with other nonprofit groups. "She was very interested when they approached us about participating."

Megan, 15, and her seven companions from the Special Olympics, one of two state organizations in the event, will share the day with 46 other Special Olympians from across the nation.

Celebrity hosts including Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy and "Life Goes On" television star Chris Burke, who has Down's syndrome, will also march.

Megan said that she didn't know what she would do to prepare for the event.

But she is glad her friend, Mary Beth Stone of Baltimore County, was also selected to participate.

"We ride together," said Megan, who has been participating in a 4-H- sponsored horseback-riding program for nine years.

Special Olympics and riding keep Megan pretty busy, but this Westminster High School student is involved in much more.

"Megan sings in the chorus at school and plays basketball in a program sponsored by the Recreation Council," said Mrs. Roland.

She also volunteers in the basketball and riding programs, as well as helping train younger athletes for Special Olympics. She has been in the Special Olympics for eight years.

Megan is one of 54 athletes, one for every state and territory that voted in the November election, who will represent Special Olympics. (Maryland and other nearby Special Olympic groups provided representatives for states that were unable to send their own people.)

The eight Maryland athletes, from Baltimore City and Baltimore, Carroll, Charles, Washington and Frederick counties, will stay Tuesday at the Best Western Baltimore East motel to be ready to leave by 7 a.m. the next day for the parade.

Special Olympics, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, is the largest nonprofit organization taking part in the inaugural celebrations.

"Our athletes will be carrying sports equipment to let the world know that we are a sports organization," said Leslie Atherholt, a state chapter spokeswoman. "We want to let people know what we have been doing for 25 years."

The Maryland Special Olympics and the motel are planning a reception for the Maryland delegation before they return to their home counties after the parade.

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