Inspiring Okeechobee: Gold Medal recipient Carol Marker turns 16

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee County commissioners honored Special Olympians at their Jan. 23 meeting in the Okeechobee County Courthouse. Back row, left to right: Commission Chairman Terry Burroughs, Commissioner Kelly Owens, Commissioner Brad Goodbread, coach Bernard Marker and Commissioner David Hazellief. Front row: Commissioner Bryant Culpepper, Robert Sandefur, Jason Brady and Carol Marker.

OKEECHOBEE — The Special Olympics Gold Medal State Champion 16 and Under Carol Marker turned 16 on Wednesday, April 8. Carol is highly active within the Special Olympics organization, both as an ambassador and as a participant.

Having been born with autism, Carol does not let this slow her down and is on the honor roll at Yearling Middle School. She was recently honored at a meeting of the Okeechobee Board of County Commissioners after she competed in the State Champion 16 and Under Bowling Division and was named the Gold Medal State Recipient Champion.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
Carol holds a torch at the 2019 Torch Run.

Carol is adapting well to schooling at home, although it was difficult at first, because she likes her routines, said her dad, Bernard Marker. “She is fine with it now, but she really misses her friends. She could do school anywhere, but it’s her friends she is having a hard time without.”

Carol enjoys spending time with her friends and family, camping, fishing and writing and illustrating books. She is a member of the Phil-Am choir at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Her parents, Bernard and Robina Marker; Aunt Sherri and Uncle Bob Hardman; along with her teachers Shelly Sickles, Jenny Santangelo and Susan Kuipers, have all inspired Carol to be the person she has become.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
Carol is very active in Special Olympics, both as an ambassador and as a participant.

Carol has been anticipating her Sweet 16 party for months. Her older sister had one, and she was looking forward to having one, too. The civic center was rented. Everything was planned, but now the event is canceled. She is understandably disappointed. Her father said he is not sure the party can be rescheduled. The civic center is booked up all the way until January. “We will just have to wait and see,” he said. He said the hardest part for Carol is that she wanted to spend her birthday with her friends, and it’s hard knowing they cannot come over. She is very disappointed.

Sheriff Noel Stephen said, “We can’t have that.” With her father’s permission, he is asking Okeechobee to reach out to this amazing young woman and send a card or note or letter and wish her a happy birthday.

If you would like to send a birthday wish, send them to:
Miss Carol Marker
2033 N.W. 46th Ave.
Okeechobee, FL 34972

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