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River Valley Transit features Special Olympians on bus wrap

JONATHAN BERGMUELLER/Sun-Gazette Athletes, friends and family line the side of the newly wrapped River Valley Transit bus featuring 10 members of the Lycoming County Special Olympics unveiled earlier this week. The bus wrap was made as a way of recognizing the hard work of the athletes.

You might see 10 of Lycoming County’s hard-working athletes circulating the River Valley Transit bus route on your commute.

But they don’t represent area high school or college teams. They are the county’s Special Olympians.

River Valley Transit featured the 10 athletes on a bright red bus wrap unveiled Sunday at the transportation organization’s administrative offices in Newberry.

“The bus wrap does a wonderful job of highlighting the athletes that we serve, and it is our hope that it will garner greater community awareness and involvement in our cause as it travels around town,” Marc Follmer, the Lycoming County manager for Special Olympics Pennsylvania, said.

Five athletes marked each side of the bus, and they lined up next to their supersized photos on the wrap for photos with friends, family and Mayor Derek Slaughter.

“This is a very proud moment for all of us,” Slaughter said. “[We can] recognize the important work we do on a day-to-day basis.”

Follmer said the idea began when a parent of one of the athletes, who was also an employee at River Valley, told Follmer to get in contact with River Valley Transit General Manager Adam Winder to explore having the Special Olympians featured on the bus wrap.

“I didn’t think River Valley would do something like this for our community, but here it is,” Follmer said. “This eye-popping bus is going to create much attention to our mission in the county.”

After families finished taking photos, the athletes loaded up into the bus and took its first ride down to Hepburn Plaza and back.

The athletes featured on the sides of the bus are, on the right side of the bus, from front to back: Nicholas Johnson, soccer; Kylie Andrews, swimming; Brendan Rooker, powerlifting; India Price, soccer; Jake Steinbacher, bocce. On the left side of the bus, from front to back: Maria Marinucci, snowshoeing; Stephen Hyuck, long-distance running and long-distance walking; Bennett Hubler, basketball; Kylie Beck, bowling; Byron Diemer, powerlifting.

Kristen Lenig, field director of the central Pennsylvania Special Olympics, attended the unveiling, and said she was proud of how well the county Special Olympics had provided sports training and competition throughout the pandemic.

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