Annual event pairs AuSable Marathon paddlers and Special Olympians
Carlie Wilson | Staff Writer
Each year, on the Friday before the AuSable River Canoe Marathon, the Grayling Knights of Columbus and the AuSable Marathon Committee team up to conduct a special event: the AuSable River Special Olympics Canoe Race.
For the last two decades, AuSable River Canoe Marathon paddlers – current racers and former Marathon competitors – are paired with local Special Olympians to paddle a short looped course in an aluminum canoe.
This event isn’t just exciting for the Olympians; it’s an event that paddlers and spectators patiently wait for all year.
Mother of one of the racers, Michelle Money, shared her thoughts on this special event that olympians like her daughter, Megan, wait for all year.
“She is so excited for this all year. We even buy shirts for her because this is what she does, this is her thing. This is what she loves to do. It gets her so excited knowing that all of her fans are coming to watch her do something that she absolutely loves to do,” said Money. “It’s funny because she will start talking about next year’s race tomorrow. As soon as it’s over, she’s already talking about next year.”
Megan Money’s partner for the last few years is 11-time Marathon champion Steve Lajoie, and over the years they’ve formed a bond, Megan often referring to him as “My Steve.”
“It’s really sweet having them compete together every year because I think he looks forward to it almost as much as she does,” Michelle said.
Megan is a veteran paddler for the Special Olympics event, and plans to continue to race with “her Steve” for as long as she is able.