It took flour, water and the efforts of 15 mentally retarded Montgomery County youths to construct the plaque for Judy Sutton, who had arranged some special donations for the Special Olympics.
The youngsters baked four Special Olympics medals into the squarish mass and presented it to Sutton last Friday.
At that moment, it was clear members of the Sutton family were happy with their decision to donate the proceeds from the Walter "Chip" Sutton Fund to the District of Columbia Special Olympics.
Chip Sutton was killed last January in the crash of an Air Florida jetliner taking off from Washington National Airport. His family decided the donations they received from friends and relatives should be used for a cause that would help others.
"I didn't want all the money going on flowers. We wanted to do something to do with athletics," said Sutton's widow Judy, 31.
Several months ago, Judy and Chip's sister and parents agreed to donate the money they received to Special Olympics, an international program of recreation and sports training for the mentally retarded.
Chip Sutton, who lived with his wife in Rockville, worked as a counselor for the Montgomery County Recreation Department, umpired Little League and was a golfer.
The Suttons' effort raised more than $2,600 for Special Olympics, which used the money to sponsor a soccer camp for about 15 young people last week at the Silver Spring YWCA.
"This camp shows without a doubt that tragedy can beget something of real value," said Chip's father Walter, speaking before the start of a ceremony attended by County Executive Charles W. Gilchrist and officials from Special Olympics in Montgomery County and the District.
The Suttons received a second plaque from the Special Olympics program bearing the organization's oath: "Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."
It is hoped that the Sutton Fund will continue to provide sports programs for handicapped youth in the Washington area for many years. Last week's program cost about $600 dollars, but various organizations donated services, including the YWCA (facilites) and PEPCO (transportation).
Those attending Friday's ceremony included members of the Sutton family and their friends, plus campers and camp staff. They gathered on the quiet, tree-lined grounds of the YWCA.
Gilchrist told the crowd of 50 people that creation of the Sutton Fund shows it is possible to "bring great hope and life out of a tragedy."
When Vincent Gray, president of the District of Columbia Special Olympics, addressed the group he glanced at the Suttons and said, "You've helped give me a renewed feeling about life."
The District organization runs six weeks of Special Olympics day camps at sites around the Washington area. Last week's was the first ever held in Montgomery County.
D.C. Special Olympics is unique, according to Steve Mason, director of training, because the 10-member camp staff consists mostly of volunteers from the city's Summer Youth Program who come out "to the country and experience things they have never been involved with."
"It's a program within a program," he said.
Stacie Glover, 15, a staff member, said she enjoyed working with the children in the program--they are referred to as "athletes"--but "I don't like the country that much. I don't like the bugs at all."
Working at the camp is a useful experience for Elena Paige, 16, who wants to become an occupational therapist.
Terry Jackson, 15, said she learned the most important thing about dealing with the campers is to "just treat 'em normal . . . and don't baby 'em too much."
Standing on the sidelines of the last camp soccer game of the week, Mason said he sees a great improvement in the athletic perfomance of the children. "It makes you wonder what you could do with them if could have them for a whole summer," he added. Camp activities include swimming, exercising, arts and crafts as well as soccer.
Amid all the running, kicking, and shouting on the soccer field, it was difficult to distinguish the "athletes" from the volunteer staff.