Newtons ‘Family of Year’

Published 8:04 pm Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bob and Laurie Newton of Edwardsburg with Lois Arnold, CEO of Michigan Special Olympics.

Bob and Laurie Newton of Edwardsburg have been active in Special Olympics for more than 20 years, culminating with their recent selection as the 2011 Outstanding Family in Michigan — the first to receive this award from Area 17 encompassing Cass, Berrien and Van Buren counties.
The Newtons coach, provide transportation for athletes and always are available to help and give suggestions to improve the program and the lives of the athletes.
The Newtons were recognized Nov. 5 at the Comfort Inn Hotel and Conference Center in Mount Pleasant with individuals and organizations for their service and dedication to Special Olympics Michigan.
According to Barb Brown, who nominated them, “Laurie’s sister Korina, an Area 17 Special Olympian, is lucky to have them as her family. She lives with the Newtons. The Newtons help with fundraising, such as wreaths and candy bars, and were amazing at securing the location for our first Polar Plunge in February 2011.
“They are coaches as well, transportation ‘king and queen,’ and they keep our 1986 Special Olympics van running,” Brown said. “The Newtons are longtime supporters of the Special Olympics program and will always be. Their 20-plus years of support is only the tip of the iceberg. They have started their granddaughter volunteering already. She was only days old when she attended her first event. They are always there when asked and assist at all events.”
A few years ago, when Cass County Special Olympians lined M-152 outside BT’s Pub to thank 325 motorcyclists riding for the third year from Coloma to Edwardsburg and back, Bob said, “Once you get your foot in it, you can’t get back out. You can’t walk away. When these kids win their event, I don’t care how big or burly you are or masculine, it will make you cry.”
That year, the Newtons coached 12 athletes for two days in Mount Pleasant while they competed in 47 events.
As a reserve police officer, he directed traffic Nov. 26 at Santa Claus’ arrival at the Edwardsburg fire station.
“I’ve been to college to do something for free,” said Bob, who as a volunteer also patrols Saturday nights.