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State Honoree

Matt Felber

Montana

Matthew Felber, 14, of East Helena, Mont., an eighth-grader at East Valley Middle School, volunteers as a “ski buddy” and assistant coach for mentally handicapped children and adults who participate in the Special Olympics ski program. When Matthew was asked to be a ski buddy several years ago, he began working with Joe, who had never skied before but was determined to succeed. “Through our cooperative effort, Joe progressed from gliding on the beginning hill to going downhill and completing the slalom course,” said Matthew. Inspired by that experience, Matthew said he wanted to become even more involved. His team now includes 15 skiers and five athletes who snowshoe. In addition to assisting the head coach with errands and other tasks, Matthew spends several hours each week teaching basic skills, accompanying skiers on the slopes, and providing positive motivation and encouragement. “The payoff for me comes when I see them succeed on their own,” he said. “When they stand on the podium getting their medals with big smiles on their faces and full of pride, it makes me so happy to know I helped someone succeed.”