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Published May 24, 2012, 08:48 PM

HEROES AMONG US: Woman Finds Comfort in Volunteer Work

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - A Grand Forks woman has dedicated much of her free time helping others succeed in athletics.

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - A Grand Forks woman has dedicated much of her free time helping others succeed in athletics.

She has helped dozens find a way to take their abilities from the court or the field and apply them to their everyday lives.

Stacy Kusler is a "Hero Among Us."

After a busy day in the office, Kusler heads to the track and takes dozens of local athletes under her wing. She conquers a fear of her own at the same time.

"I just always had an excuse of why not to (volunteer) and I was hesitant. I was nervous. I had never been around this population and I didn't know if I was the right fit," Kusler said.

Kusler has spent the last five years coaching sports for Special Olympics.

"Stacy is a great friend and a good coach. She also keeps us well pumped up for the next track meet," Special Olympics athlete Erin Baumann said.

"She is both a friend and a great trainer," Special Olympics athlete Karen Miller added.

Kusler said it only took her one practice to get hooked on helping out.

"(I) found out that they're a lot more like us than you would think. I kept coming back to every season after that and here I am," Kusler said.

The female athletes appreciate a woman's presence at each practice, as many other volunteers are men.

"I think she has a great personality and she has a great sense of humor," Miller said.

"I just got really comfortable with the athletes and talking to them. I guess, it just kind of came natural," Kusler said.

Even off the field, Stacy has a positive impact on the athletes' lives.

"Caring about them, knowing about their lives outside of special olympics just as much as what they're doing here," Special Olympics volunteer Josh Parrill said.

"We click and we can talk about some of the same stuff and it's fun to just get along with everybody," Kuler said.

"She is a good friend, she's a wonderful girl and she is very cool," Special Olympics athlete Mary Jo Esslinger said.

"It's totally gratifying to be a part of it. You just feel like a million bucks when you leave because they think you're the greatest," Kusler said.

"We just appreciate her so much. She adds a lot to the organization as a whole. It brings a lot to every practice just to have that positive attitude and positive face," Parrill said.

Kusler has also become a big part of the Special Olympics volunteer management team. She puts together the monthly newsletter and apparently it has evolved quite a bit since she took that over.

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