News Article Details

Autism Society, Fairmont State partner for swimming event

Times West Virginian - 10/1/2018

Oct. 01--FAIRMONT -- It was medal time on Sunday at Fairmont State University.

At the Feaster Center pool, a total of 35 medals were given out to autistic children in a medal ceremony as part of the university swim team's partnership with the Corridor Chapter of the Autism Society of West Virginia for the third consecutive year to participate in the Autism Swimming Challenge.

This program partners a child with autism with a Fairmont State swimmer as a buddy for swimming lessons, according to a news release from the university.

Coach Pat Snively stated while many children with autism are drawn to water, the Falcons aim to teach water safety to prevent drowning as well as allow those who are sound swimmers to practice advanced techniques.

During the ceremony, buddies accompanied the children to the podium to get their medals.

Snively, who was on hand Sunday for the ceremony, said it gives Fairmont State "an opportunity to share our gifts."

"We view our role as student athletes here at Fairmont State as three-fold," Snively said. "We want to be the very best we can be in the classroom. We want to be the very best we can be in our field of athletics. And we want to serve others, and this gives us an opportunity to fulfill that role in doing so."

Sunday was the final of four consecutive Sundays for the program.

Prior to the medal ceremony, members of the swim team spent time in the water with the children. Swim team member Monique Dias swam with Matthew Hertzog.

"It's really different from anything I ever did," Dias said.

Dias also said she likes to make a connection with the children.

Hertzog said his goal was to learn how to completely float in the water. He enjoyed the program.

For swim team member Arthur Brilhante, the program was "a great experience" as he worked with Dylan Daugherty, 15, son of Mike and Krissy Daugherty of Fairmont.

Mike thought his son learned a lot in the program, and made some progress with swimming underwater.

"He can swim on top and on his back good," Mike said. "We have a pool at home, but we've been really wanting to teach him how to swim underwater a little bit in case he needed it."

He commended Brilhante for working with his son.

"Arthur's done a real good job," Mike said.

Krissy Daugherty said the program is very good, and helped her son socialize better. She liked the interaction and the different activities.

In the university's news release, Brad Ford, an active Corridor Chapter parent, said the partnership with Fairmont State and the athletes really make the program possible.

"It's an amazing opportunity to sit back and watch the children interact with the athletes," Ford said. "It gives the parents a sense of pride to watch with their child interact with someone else.

"It's a win-win situation. We feel the impact the student athlete makes on our children and families, but the children bring a lot to the athletes too. This event is one of our signature events and if we didn't have a group like them we wouldn't have this opportunity. For the kids, this is truly their winning moment. It's a camera moment and there are definitely a lot of tears."

Eric Hrin can be reached at 304-367-2549.

Eric Hrin can be reached at 304-367-2549, or ehrin@timeswv.com.

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(c)2018 the Times West Virginian (Fairmont, W. Va.)

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