Inspired by her son, Sharon Reusch medals at Transplant Games

posted Thu, Aug 9, 2018 by Jon Buzby

Sharon Reusch spent more than 20 years overseeing the Special Olympics Delaware VIP Program. In that role, she managed everything from top to bottom, and served as a head coach for many sports and an assistant for others. 

One of her favorites sports was track & field. In addition to serving as the VIP head track coach, she was the head track & field coach for the Delaware team that competed at the 1991 Special Olympics Wold Games in Minneapolis. So being around a big track meet at a major competition was nothing new to her. However, being on the inside of the fence was.

Reusch, a kidney transplant recipient, recently competed at th 2018 Transplant Games of America, held August 2 - 7 in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was her second Transplant Games, which are held every two years.

"The last games were in Cleveland, Ohio," Reusch reminisced. "I only did the 100-meter. I came in dead last. I was going to cross that line if I had to crawl. I was very proud of myself."

Reusch has even more reason to be proud after her performance in Salt Lake City. She now struggles to walk and so knew going in that she'd have to compete using a walker to make her way down the track in the torrid summer heat.

Her plan was to compete in five track events, all offered on the same day at a local high school. After finishing in fourth place in the 70-plus age division of the 100-meter dash, Reusch went on to win her next event, the 400.

"I might as well have done a marathon, that is what it felt like," she recalled of the one-lap race. 

Reusch was ready to call it quits, and who could have blamed her given the extreme heat and having to participate in five events all in one day. 

"I told Rick (Sharon's son who was with her), 'I am done and I can't do any more,'" Reusch said. "Ricky said, 'You can't quit now. You always taught me and your [Special Olympics] athletes to never give up. You can do this.' He said I had to do the 200. I did it and crossed the line."

As the lone competitor in the division, Reusch won the gold.

"As I was walking off the track I was getting high fives and congratulations," she proudly recalled. "People said I inspired them. I said, 'Thank you. My son was in Special Olympics and I was a coach and he said I can't quit and have to try.'

"I guess it's practice what you preach," she added.

If Reusch has her way, this won't be her last Translant Games. The 2020 games are being held in North Jersey at the Meadowlands complex.

"I'll have to start asking for donations now," she said, smiling.