DHS worker to lead athletes at Special Olympics World Games
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Caleb Shoaf is passionate about his work as a case manager for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) Developmental Disabilities Services. Shoaf collaborates in planning and facilitating the care of individuals with intellectual disabilities. He advocates for quality options for services designed to meet his clients’ health needs and to enhance their quality of life.
But when Shoaf leaves his office in Oklahoma City, he has another passion that defines his and his family’s lives-- volunteering for the Special Olympics.
He is a longtime volunteer, event organizer and certified coach in a wide variety of sports for Special Olympics. He has coached and managed events for athletes locally, statewide and at the National Special Olympic Games. Currently he is focused on his work as an assistant athletics coach for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games scheduled for July 25-August 2 in Los Angeles.
“It is a dream come true,” Shoaf said. “This is the biggest stage any athlete can hope for and I am excited and honored to witness it.”
He learned about volunteering from his mother, Darlene, who taught special education at Yukon Public Schools for 36 years and coached Special Olympics for 30 years.
“I started volunteering with her at a young age,” Shoaf said. “Special Olympics has helped me realize what true, unconditional friendship is. Our athletes have shown me that if you work hard enough and stay dedicated to your dreams that you can accomplish anything.”
Shoaf’s mother not only introduced him to Special Olympics, she introduced him to another special education teacher and Special Olympics coach in Yukon named Renee, the woman who would later become his wife. He and Renee are expecting their first child in September.
“Mom did well,” he said, laughing.
Prior to the World Games, Shoaf will attend the Special Olympics Oklahoma Summer Games May 13-15 at Oklahoma State University and other locations in Stillwater.
“We have more and more athletes participate each year and continually break the attendance record,” he said. “This year more than 5,000 athletes will be competing with over 1,300 coaches behind them. Between athletes, coaches and the amount of volunteers it takes to hold the games, we will take up every dorm room on campus and every hotel room in town. The support we get from Stillwater and everyone involved is unwavering.”
The 2015 Special Olympics World Games is expected to draw 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches from 177 countries, as well as an expected 500,000 spectators. It will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015 and the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games. Daily coverage will be featured on ESPN and affiliated networks.
Of the 34 competitors representing the United States, Shoaf has been assigned four athletes. One of his athletes is from Oklahoma and they have previously worked together.
“Casey was on Team Oklahoma when we went to the National Games in New Jersey this past summer,” Shoaf said. “He is an amazing pentathlon athlete and I am really excited to see what he does in LA.”
He said it is always a joy to watch athletes give it their all, and as a coach that is what he expects from them.
“It is my job to support them and push them to do their best,” Shoaf said. “When an athlete leaves everything out there, you can’t ask for more. Whether you are a coach, volunteer or spectator it is an amazing thing to see and I have always told people that if they go to one Special Olympics event, they will go for the rest of their lives.”
CUTLINE: Caleb Shoaf works with a Special Olympics athlete during a recent high-jump event.
CUTLINE: Caleb Shoafand one of his athletes during a recent Special Olympics competitive event.