About 30 years ago, Linder Wiederholt got involved with Special Olympics as a fan watching her younger brother.
She stuck with Special Olympics, participating in virtually every facet including coaching, fundraising, mentoring, leadership, planning committees and recruiting.
In January, Wiederholt was inducted into the Special Olympics Missouri Hall of Fame for her service. She joined her brother Daniel Schieber, who was inducted two years earlier.
As part of her induction into the Hall of Fame, she also was enshrined in the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
Wiederholt, who teaches sixth-grade math at Plaza Middle School in the Park Hill School District, has been involved with Special Olympics since the 1980s.
Her main work, she said, came after her youngest child became a senior in high school. That was about 12 years ago, around the time she became a coach and then started different programs for Park Hill as a volunteer.
“My first basketball team was four girls and now we have seven different teams,” she said.
Her role now is more of an organizer.
“I still coach, but I’m sort of like a director — coordinator would be a good word,” she said.
She enjoys working with the athletes because she likes watching them improve and because they have a way to make you feel special.
“Whenever you are around an athlete, they will make smile,” Wiederholt said. “They will make you feel better than when you started whatever you are doing.”
She said people who are involved also build friendships with not only the athletes, but with all the volunteers in the state and across the country.
Wiederholt said she got into coaching because she saw a need in Park Hill. Over the years she has learned to love all sports.
“I used to hate tennis, but its one of my favorites now,” she said. It’s a sport that teaches athletes how to move.
Wiederholt has previously been recognized for her service. She was honored with the Outstanding Coach award in 2007 and she has twice been selected to coach at the National Games, once in 2010 for tennis and the other time in 2006 for track and field.
When she started coaching, Park Hill offered swimming and track and field sports. Over the years, she has helped expand Park Hill’s program to include basketball, softball, tennis, bocce, bowling, golf and soccer.
“Each year what I did is added another sport so we are now year-round,” she said.
She said it is important to offer a variety of options for the athletes.
“It helps them stay healthy,” she said. “Probably even more important than that, that is their social life.”
Wiederholt said she is humbled by being selected to the Hall of Fame.
“It was an honor I never dreamed of,” Wiederholt said. “At Plaza our goals are what our dreams are. That never made my list. It went beyond my dreams.”