As a special education teacher, Katie Campbell Rexford understood the importance of celebrating the accomplishments of her students.
When she was killed by a drunk driver in 1985 on her way home from a family wedding, her parents looked for a way to ensure her memory would remain, forever.
Jane and George Campbell, both highly regarded throughout the community by their volunteer efforts, looked to the Chautauqua County Special Olympics with the desire to celebrate athletes, in Rexford’s memory.
They established the Katie Campbell Rexford Memorial Fund at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation to purchase medals and athletic equipment needed by athletes participating in a variety of programs supported by the Chautauqua County Special Olympics. The Campbells even created the Katie Rexford Most Improved Athlete Award to be presented at every olympic event.
According to Bob Goold, Chautauqua County Special Olympics volunteer and coordinator, medals are awarded throughout the year to athletes who have improved in either sportsmanship or their preferred event.
“Since 1986, George and I have presented more than 1,000 medals to athletes participating in track and field, swimming, bowling and roller skating,” Jane said in 1995. “All of this would mean so much to Katie, and we are honored to do it in her memory.”
Although Jane and George have passed away since the creation of this award, their dedication to Special Olympics, and Rexford’s memory is celebrated each year.
To date, more than $24,000 has been awarded to the local Special Olympics chapter to support local athletes and to honor their accomplishments.