Kendallville resident and long-time Parkview Noble volunteer, Rhea Scott, 40, has been busy! In addition to helping at the hospital, she attends local social and educational events, coaches and plays multiple sports. The latter led to her recent recognition as the Area 3 Athlete of the Year for Indiana Special Olympics.
On the move
Rhea shared that it was her parents, Steve and Barb, who nominated her for the award. Over the many years that she’s participated in Special Olympics, they’ve had a front-row seat to her numerous successes in basketball, bowling and cornhole.
While she’s relished the big wins as an athlete and coach, in both bowling (she has ten athletes going to the state competition this year) and basketball, she does prefer to toss the bags. “Cornhole is my favorite,” Rhea admits. “I’m pretty good at it.” It helps that her best friend is also her cornhole partner.
Steve served as a mentor for Rhea when she attended the Athlete Input Council, which allows Special Olympics participants to come together and talk about the games and offer recommendations. During the conference, Rhea garnered attention for her cornhole data tracking sheet, which was a popular item among her peers and other coaches.
Off the court
Her participation and recognition have also led to another exciting opportunity. Rhea is attending the Athlete Leadership University at Butler University. Through this program, athletes can choose between seven majors and attend a series of courses, held twice a year. Within two to three years, those who complete the necessary courses and practicums will graduate with a sports degree.
“It can be a struggle for Rhea,” Barb said. “Because some of the other students are higher functioning. But she’s giving it her best and she has determination.” That focus and hard work earned Rhea the Most Inspiring Athlete Leader Award through the college program.
But it isn’t all about sports, of course. Rhea shared that she also loves Hallmark movies and hanging out with her best friend.
Pitching in at Parkview Noble
Rhea began volunteering at Parkview Noble in 2015. “Getting to know people and building relationships is important to me,” she said. It’s a priority that has fingerprints all over her calendar.
At Parkview Noble, she’s found that the kitchen is her favorite area (and team) to lend her services to. “It’s awesome working with them!” she said. She helps the culinary team on Wednesdays and Fridays, from 8 a.m. to noon, and shared that her co-workers are supportive of her Special Olympics accolades and encourage her in all she does. For this reason, she has no plans to stop volunteering at the hospital anytime soon.
Barb explained that Rhea was born with a high-functioning moderate psychiatric disability and that opportunities to practice life skills are incredibly helpful. “She’s been at The Arc® Noble County Foundations for a long time,” Barb said. “They challenged us to put Rhea in situations where she could interact with people without disabilities, and she’s really enjoyed being with the kitchen team. She’s learned that she can dish it out and we’ve seen her grow so much. I notice it with her positivity and how outgoing she is. She’s becoming someone who’s known in our community and developing friendships.”
Part of exposing Rhea to new opportunities is exploring events close to home and sharpening her independent skills. Barb and Rhea like to attend free cooking classes at the local library, hosted by Caitlyn Bauer, MS, RDN, LD, community outreach dietitian, Parkview Center for Healthy Living. This also gives Rhea another familiar, friendly face to connect with at the hospital.
“It’s always enjoyable when Rhea and Barb come to my classes. They are engaging and just a ton of fun to be around!” Caitlyn said. “Rhea is a phenomenal person. Every time I talk with her, she shares all the unique and interesting things she is doing. She is one of the most active people I have ever met – in the community, with Special Olympics, volunteering, and learning new thoughts and ideas. I enjoy seeing Rhea and catching up with her at the hospital when she volunteers in the morning in the kitchen.”
Show your support
Special Olympics Indiana is preparing for the 25th annual Polar Plunge on February 10 in Fort Wayne. While Rhea has participated in the past – “I thought it was fun!” – she will be attending a basketball tournament in Indianapolis this year and won’t be able to wade in, though she will still help with fundraising for the cause. You can get details on the plunge through the Special Olympics website.