BERLIN, GERMANY – Local Riverton native Lewis Fancher has been a staple of the Fremont County Special Olympics teams for over the past decade and while he has had his moments in sports, whether it’s bowling, track and field or the newly sanctioned bocce ball, he has never had the privilege that he’s going to have this upcoming summer. 

It was announced last week that Fancher was selected as one of the eight representatives to carry the torch for the Special Olympics this summer in Berlin, Germany, truly an honor that nobody has been bestowed upon here in Riverton before. 

“I was surprised,” Fancher said about his nomination. “I’m sure there’s people around the world more qualified but I guess they got me.”

Fancher found out last week as local law enforcement from all over Fremont County and Wyoming surprised Fancher, literally, with a party and celebration over his nomination filled with friends and local special olympians. 

Lewis Fancher (right) and Officer Matt Koritnik (left) ran with the torch back in 2014 from New Jersey to New York, now Fancher will hoist the torch once again but in Germany for the international games. (p/c Lewis Paul Fancher Facebook)

This will be Fancher’s second time hoisting the torch for the Special Olympics with his last time coming back in 2014 as he ran across New Jersey and New York for the United States games, but this time will be very different for the gold medalist.

“I’ve never been out of the country before, I’m excited,” Fancher said. 

Not only will Fancher be carrying the torch with his team of olympian runners, but he will also be traveling and running with Keith Groeneweg, a retired Wyoming Highway Patrolman out of Cheyenne. Groeneweg is one of many law enforcement officers that are part of the Special Olympics, thanks to the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) side of the Special Olympics of Wyoming organization, a group that Fancher sits on the board of. 

Not only is Fancher a huge part of LETR but he is also on the Athlete Input Council, something that helps people like Cathy Bisiar, the Director of LETR, keep in contact and hear about athlete’s important issues and events across Fremont County and Wyoming. 

“Lewis has always taken the initiative to spread awareness about the Special Olympics and everything we do,” Bisiar said about Fancher. “Nothing really stops him … he’s a really good mentor for other athletes and he has a very kind heart. He’s very involved with everything.”

On top of earning gold in Special Olympic events like bowling, running long jump, softball and the relay team, he is also one of the top earners for the annual Jackalope Jump every year, including this upcoming one on March 18 outside of Riverton City Hall. 

Fancher (left) and Jared Foutz (right) smiled at the Special Olympics’ bowling event last year (p/c Lewis Paul Fancher Facebook – Lisa Foutz)

When Fancher is not too busy donating his time, earning money, and sitting on the multiple Special Olympics tables that he resides on, he’s attending sporting events and watching games like his alma mater, Wind River High School, play football or basketball. And you can always be sure to see Fancher at every home Central Wyoming College (CWC) basketball and volleyball games. 

“I enjoy watching CWC,” Fancher said after the Rustlers came close to knocking off Casper College Wednesday night. “They go out and try their best like I do … plus they got good food there.”

Fancher desperately deserves more attention and notice from around Fremont County for all the work he has done, and continues to do, for the Special Olympics and his new title of torch bearer in the international games in Germany is a great starting point for that as he will be on more than just a national stage for the first time in his young, 37-year old life. 

CONGRATS LEWIS! Everyone in Riverton, and Fremont County, AND WYOMING, is super proud of you and can’t wait to see you out in Germany this summer!

By: Shawn O’Brate