Ellen Paynter is a force to be reckoned with. She is the mother of Chris Paynter, Special Olympics athlete and fierce competitor since he was 8-years-old. She is a formidable advocate for people with intellectual disabilities. Ellen champions her son's accomplishments and along with the intense love of a parent and enthusiasm of a fan.
When Ellen Paynter speaks about the benefits of Special Olympics Oklahoma, she speaks with the voice of experience and a great love of the program. You often see Ellen on the sidelines of competition events cheering for Chris and cheering for all of the other athletes as well. She is a volunteer, a fundraiser, an athlete, a coach and a beloved member of the Special Olympics Oklahoma family.
On November 3, 2011 Chris Paynter, Special Olympics Oklahoma athlete, was named the International Athlete of the Year. The award was presented by the Law Enforcement International Executive Council during the International Law Enforcement Torch Run Conference in Calgary, Canada. The Athlete of the Year award was created to recognize outstanding Special Olympics athletes who have contributed to the success of the Law Enforcement Torch Run on a local, state or national level. Paynter is the first Special Olympics athlete to receive this prestigious international award.
Paynter was recognized during a ceremony at the International Law Enforcement Torch Run Conference held November 3 through 5, 2011. Dean and Ellen Paynter, Chris’s parents, and members of the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Torch Run Committee were guests at the awards ceremony. Law Enforcement representatives from around the world were in attendance at the conference.
Chris Paynter resides in Edmond, Oklahoma and is a member of the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Torch Run Committee. He has helped raise awareness and funds for Oklahoma Law Enforcement Torch Run for more than 16 years. Paynter has been competing as a Special Olympics Oklahoma athlete since he was 8 years old. He has recruited other Special Olympics athletes to participate in fundraising including Polar Plunges, Tip-A-Cops, Cops on Doughnut Shops and other regional fundraising events. Paynter has been invited to more than 70 speaking engagements including the Law Enforcement Torch Run State Kickoff luncheon and the International Law Enforcement Torch Run Conference. He was one of only ten Special Olympics athletes invited to carry the Flame of Hope on the Final Leg for the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Boise, Idaho.