Marie McIntosh newest member of Hall of Fame

posted Thu, Sep 4, 2014 by Jon Buzby

Marie McIntosh is the 25th member of the SODE Hall of Fame. (submitted photo)

Marie McIntosh has volunteered for Special Olympics Delaware for nearly four decades.

She serves as a head and assistant coach in multiple sports, helps organize and volunteers at many events, has helped develop new sports, and most recently coached at the USA Games.

She’s a veteran polar bear and can always be seen in the kitchen at Camp Barnes during summer camp.

For her countless volunteer hours and immeasurable impact on the athletes’ lives, Marie is being inducted into the Special Olympics Delaware Hall of Fame.

“I feel so honored to be selected,” Marie shared. “It truly is nothing I ever thought about receiving.”

Marie’s involvement began in 1976 when, as the varsity girls swim coach at Newark High School, she decided to host a meet for Special Olympics athletes. She contacted the state office, recruited some swimmers to participate, and the rest is history.

“It was a great event,” Marie, now a retired special education teacher and coordinator, recalled. “And that is how my involvement began.”

From there Marie started coaching swimming for the Special Olympics Thunderbears program and also took on the role of organizing the Special Olympics swim meets.

When another volunteer offered to take over the swim team, Marie and some friends decided to help grow the tennis program in the Newark area, opening up practices to anyone who wanted to participate, regardless of team affiliation. She didn’t stop there.

“I summered in Bethany and decided we could also do tennis down there,” she explained.  

What started out in Bethany Beach as one sport with a few athletes has since grown into a well-rounded sports program.

“When I moved permanently to Bethany, we added swimming, then bowling, cycling, bocce and golf,” Marie said proudly.

Marie remains the tennis head coach and assists with other sports. In addition, she still helps organize the tennis venue at Summer Games and is always willing to pitch in whenever needed.

Like many Special Olympics volunteers, she has trouble pointing to just one fondest memory.

“I have many memorable moments, but watching Glenn (Jones) and Erin (Bailey) win gold in doubles and silver in singles at the USA Games was one of my best moments,” Marie said. 

And like other volunteers, sometimes those memorable moments have nothing to do with medals.

“A recent great moment was the smile on Robert Smith's face when he received a new bicycle,” she said. “It has taken a while for Robert to share his feelings, but in the last year, he takes the time to talk with coaches. It is just neat to see that interaction from him.”

Marie is all smiles when she thinks about the countless hours over the years she has put in volunteering with Special Olympics.

“I simply can't imagine my life without the athletes,” she said. “As I continue with Special Olympics I have watched some of these athletes grow up over the years. I love going to Summer Games and seeing the athletes I was involved with years ago. It is like old home week for me. 

“What has to be remembered is why we are there,” she added about her many years of service. “For me, it is not only about the athletes, but also about their parents and the community volunteers who embrace us.”

At this year’s Night of Heroes event, the Special Olympics Delaware movement will embrace Marie as the 25th member of the Special Olympics Delaware Hall of Fame.