Sarah Utech of McPherson was named “Most Inspirational Athlete for the Special Olympics Kansas Summer Games” on Saturday at the Wichita State University campus.


Sarah Utech of McPherson was named “Most Inspirational Athlete for the Special Olympics Kansas Summer Games” on Saturday at the Wichita State University campus.
According to the Special Olympics website, www.ksso.org, athletes are nominated by their coaches at the competition, and then selected by a panel of judges at three of the state competitions.
Athletes are chosen for their sportsmanship on and off the court, participation in events, and attitude toward the Special Olympics program.
Sarah was adopted at the age of 3 by John and Marlene Utech and grew up in Lyons.
She graduated from Lyons High School in 2005. Sarah has been involved with Special Olympics since 2008 when she started playing basketball. She has since earned medals in several swimming and track and field events.
“Getting to hang out with friends from all over Kansas is definitely my favorite part of Special Olympics,” Sarah said. “You get to know so many different people.”
MCDS has helped Sarah to live independently in an apartment and work in the community without any assistance.
She currently works part-time at MCDS filling in for the receptionist and in the sheltered workshop.
Off the field, Sarah shows compassion for others in her willingness to help.
“Sarah is the first to step up and go all out to help others,”  said Matt Ayers, Day Services supervisor at MCDS. “She demonstrates leadership and is very positive and encouraging of those around her.”
Case Manager Jaime Shell said, “Sarah has really turned things around and improved her attitude in the past couple of years. This is a great accomplishment for her, and it gives her great pride that she was chosen over all the other athletes in the state of Kansas.”
When she is not practicing for upcoming events or working out at the local YMCA, Sarah enjoys hanging out with friends, shopping for clothes and babysitting.  
Sarah also is a talented musician who likes to sing, play guitar and write lyrics.
In the future, Sarah would like to attend college classes and earn a nursing or CMA degree. She is hoping to start taking classes soon.
“Getting this award was just amazing,” Sarah said. “It’s not every day you get an award like that.”
Sarah’s family celebrated her achievement with a family dinner and photos.