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Little Lights Chapter 2: McCracken County Special Olympics

For Tori Elrod, the chance to take over leadership for the McCracken County Special Olympics means growth – for the organization, the community, and for Tori herself. 

As a Paducah native who recently relocated back home after an absence for college and then time spent living in two Southern cities, Tori views the new Special Olympics position as a way for her to expand and grow her roots in Paducah.  

I am just excited to be back in the community where I grew up and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can give back to it,” Tori says of the position. 

An athlete herself, Tori believes this opportunity will also help her further her passion for sports in a meaningful way. 

I have a sports background,” she says. 

I played sports since I was a kid and up through college and still compete in certain sports today. 

“I was an assistant basketball coach for multiple years while I was in college at Transylvania University in Lexington, and it was that experience that made me so interested in becoming involved with Special Olympics again once I moved back to Paducah. 

Sports taught me about teamwork, dedication, communication, time management, social skills, and so much more. I can’t imagine how different my life would be without the opportunity to participate in athletics. 

“Special Olympics gives that opportunity to athletes who might have never had it if it weren’t for this organization,” Tori says. 

But even more important than the chance for personal growth in this new position, Tori has big plans to help the organization grow. Currently, McCracken County Special Olympics provides athletic endeavors through five sports to approximately 100 athletes. Tori hopes to grow both of those numbers.  

To grow both athletes and volunteers, she knows she needs to raise awareness. 

We know there are more athletes out there that are eligible to participate but probably just don’t know about the organization or how to sign up,” she says. 

“And, for people who love sports and want to give back in some way, coaching a team is the perfect opportunity for those people to do both. 

We also have singleday volunteer opportunities like timing or score keeping for an event. 

I want to make sure we connect with as many people as we can to fill those roles. 

In the face of the goals she has for growth of the organization and for herself, though, Tori says she’s not losing sight of the core value of the organization—providing opportunities for growth and interaction for the Special Olympics athletes they serve. 

More than anything,” she says, “I am looking forward to interacting with all the athletes and their families.  

Help McCracken County Special Olympics Grow 

Tori and the McCracken County Special Olympics need your help! If you know of an athlete who is interested in playing a sport, please reach out. If you or someone you know would like to give time as a coach or as a single-day volunteer, please get in touch immediately to begin helping athletes achieve their dreams. 

You can reach Tori and the organization through their Facebook page or by emailing


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