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Craig's Walk to benefit Special Olympics May 11

The Express-Star - 4/29/2017

April 28--Craig Meyer was in third grade the first time he volunteered at the Oklahoma Special Olympics in Stillwater.

He began volunteering alongside his father, Stewart Meyer, a retired Oklahoma State Trooper. Craig's duties included handing out medals and giving hugs to athletes as they crossed the finish line.

"From then he was hooked," Craig's mother, Beth Ann Meyer's recalls.

Craig carried the Special Olympics in his heart into adulthood. Even after marriage and children, Craig volunteered with his wife Des and daughter Izzie.

Tragically, Craig died in a plane crash in January 2007 when he was 26 years old.

Over a decade after his death, the Meyer family walks to the Special Olympics in his honor.

On May 11, a fundraising event for the Special Olympics and the Grady County Athletes will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Chickasha High School Football Field. Registration is $25, which includes a t-shirt. Bottled water and fruit will be provided to walkers, who may participate as much as they want at the "come and go" event.

Participants may register ahead of time by contacting Beth and Stewart at bam30meyer@aol.com or call/text 405-226-2507. Participants may attend the day of the walk, but registering ahead of time will help ensure the right size t-shirt is available.

The Craig Meyer Memorial Walk to Stillwater for the Special Olympics and Chickasha Leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run consists of four miles. There are two, 2-mile legs. Runners are welcome to run one leg or both, according to Elip Moore.

The day after Craig's walk, on May 12, Craig's parents, family and supporters will make a 125 mile journey on foot to the Oklahoma Special Olympics in Stillwater. They will be walking from May 12 to May 16. The walk takes about six days, at a rate of about 20 or so miles per day, Beth said. Beth said she and her husband Stewart switch about every three miles while the other takes the car. The walk always takes place on Mother's Day, which is also Craig's birthday this year.

The group of about 30 make stops in Minco, El Reno and Yukon. On Sunday, the family attends church service at the Baptist Church of Piedmont, where one of their former pastor, Gary Caldwell, currently holds service. His daughter is a special athlete.

Craig's daughter, Izzie, was seven months old when her father died. Now 10 years old, she walked for the first time alongside her family last year. Des remarried to Zack Butler and together they had Tinleigh and Owen.

When the walk reaches El Reno, Beth and Stewart's daughter, Christy Schroeder and her children Zak, Alex and Abby join in.

"We have grandchildren ranging from two to 22," Beth said.

Weather in Oklahoma is known for being unpredictable, this is especially the case in May, when severe weather is most likely to strike. Beth said the walk goes on rain or shine, except for in the case of tornados or lightening. During one walk, the winds picked up to speeds of 30 to 40 miles per hour and the temperature had dropped to around 35 degrees.

However, most of the time, Beth said the weather has been merciful. It's a long week for the Meyers. After volunteering at the Special Olympics, the group drives home on Friday.

Those who want to join the Meyers and supporters in the walk to Stillwater are more than welcome, Beth said.

"We would love for anyone in the community to join us," Beth said. At any point during the walk, people are welcome to call Beth and Stewart to find out where they are at that point and jump in any time.

The family has had their share of adventures and funny stories along the way.

While the family takes donations for Craig's Walk at the event, Beth said they have received donations during their walk. Once, a car stopped way ahead of the group and then drove away. Beth said as they got closer, they saw the driver had put $7 under a rock.

Another time, as the walk was being escorted by Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Beth said they saw a group of school age boys take off running, perhaps thinking the blinking OHP lights were for them. The group also sees plenty of snakes and turtles along the way. Beth said they help move the turtles out of the road.

This year at Craig's Walk, participants can purchase a copy of "Craig's Story," a book about Craig's life, authored by his parents. Beth said the book was recently published and they just received copies.

Beth said they began the book as a journal during their travels after Craig passed away. It was a way to journey through the long road of grief in the wake of their son's death. The book is $13, with a portion of the sales going towards the Craig Meyer's Foundation which provides scholarships for Chickasha High School students every year.

Beth said as much as they miss their son, they are proud of him and everything he did during his brief time on earth. He touched the lives of many, Beth said.

"And we know we'll see him again," she said.

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(c)2017 The Express-Star (Chickasha, Okla.)

Visit The Express-Star (Chickasha, Okla.) at chickashanews.com

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