For more information about Special Olympics in Forsyth County and how you can help, visit www.soforsyth.com.
Linda Fitzpatrick is a self-proclaimed master of multi-tasking.
And given all she does, the title must be true.
Fitzpatrick manages to juggle being a wife, mother of an 11th-grader at West Forsyth High School and a full-time financial partner manager with Epson America, a job she said that takes her away from home “60 to 70 percent of the time.”
On top of all that, she coaches a Special Olympics softball team and serves on the leadership committee for the local organization.
Her efforts recently earned her the title of top Special Olympics adult volunteer in the state of Georgia.
Forsyth Special Olympics leaders weren’t surprised by the award.
In a nomination letter, Ron Molnar, public relations chairman of the organization, called Fitzpatrick “an amazing woman.”
“I have never met anyone with such a high energy level and complete focus on helping others,” he wrote.
But Fitzpatrick was much more humble about the recognition.
“I guess I’ve just learned to master multi-tasking,” she said.
Fitzpatrick and her family — husband Denny and special needs daughter Daley — first got involved with the Forsyth County Special Olympics in 2007.
The program gives students and adults with mental or physical disabilities the opportunity to participate in a range of athletic activities throughout the year.
Daley Fitzpatrick started with track and field activities, but has expanded her range to include softball and basketball.
She also serves the Georgia Special Olympics organization as a Global Messenger, speaking at various fundraising and other large-scale events about what Special Olympics means to her.
“Before Special Olympics, I didn’t have many friends and I didn’t play any sports,” Daley Fitzpatrick said.
Her mother said the organization has given her not only the chance to be an athlete, but also helped her make plenty of friends and build self-confidence.
Special Olympics has also done much for the family as a whole, the elder Fitzpatrick said.
“It’s been wonderful for us,” she said. “We found a home surrounded by a lot of wonderful friends.”
Linda Fitzpatrick wanted to share the feeling with others. That’s why she volunteered to serve as the family liaison for the Forsyth organization.
In that role, she contacts new families, providing them assistance as they sign up to participate.
“I’m their first line of contact,” she said. “I welcome them and let them know what it’s all about.”
In that role, she also ensures that athletes and families have what they need as they travel around Georgia for the seasonal state games.
“I coordinate all the lodging and meals as we’re traveling,” she said.
In addition, Fitzpatrick also organized several social events, which gives athletes and families a chance to spend time together away from practices and games.
Among the outings are back-to-school, Halloween and Christmas dances, as well as monthly bowling nights.
“That’s what it’s all about really, giving the athletes and the families that social connection,” she said.
For the past three years, Fitzpatrick has served as one of the main organizers of Battle of the Bats, a Special Olympics invitational softball tournament that raises money for the Forsyth program.
“That first year was a little wobbly,” she said. “But last year, we had about 22 teams from three different states.”
She’s particularly gratified that previous events have been so successful that every athlete now receives a trophy.
“There’s so much excitement from [the athletes] that any bumps in the road in planning are forgotten,” she said.
As far as her state volunteer award, Fitzpatrick said she was shocked to receive it.
“I was honored and truly humbled all at the same time,” she said, adding there are many others in Forsyth Special Olympics who could have received the recognition.
“There’s so much that goes on behind the scenes,” she said. “I’d say we’re probably one of the top three most active counties in the state as far as Special Olympics.
“We’re very, very blessed and lucky to live where we live and have such a supportive program. I’m just part of a big team that all work really well together.”