“It went great,” said county coordinator Cathy Hoggard. “We had about 100 people there with all the families, volunteers and athletes.”
The committee held their first-ever Special Olympics Fall Games Friday afternoon at East Rockingham Park and this was their way of thanking the athletes, families and volunteers for all of their hard work.
“They had a blast,” Hoggard said. “It looked like they had a ball. It was really neat to look and see everyone bowling; some of the families bowled with the athletes. I think they enjoyed it.”
The Special Olympics are best known for their annual spring games which are larger and draw a pretty big crowd, but because there’s such a gap between events, the committee wanted to find a way to create year-round opportunities for their athletes and last week was just the start.
Hoggard said the planning committee is going to take a few weeks off for the holidays, but once January comes around, they’ll start planning for another bowling opportunity for the athletes as well as figuring out a date for the 2010 Special Olympics Spring Games.
This will be the third annual spring games since Special Olympics started back up in Richmond County.
The first year the committee put on the spring games, Hoggard said they planned it all in about two months.
“It was quite fast because we wanted to have the kick off and we had to start from scratch,” Hoggard said. “Every year we get a little better and know what we need to improve and do differently. We’ll start with a date and go from there.”
The spring games are held at the Richmond Senior High School stadium so Hoggard said it’s important to plan the event so it doesn’t conflict with any scheduled games or end of year testing.
Hoggard said once a date is picked, they’ll begin planning training opportunities for the athletes. Every athlete has to have eight weeks of training for the spring games’ track and field events.
During the spring games, athletes have the opportunity to compete in up to three events, which means there will be lots of training needed, and lots of volunteers.
Hoggard said the spring games usually require about 100 volunteers to help with the different events, the food, announcing awards and helping with individual athletes.
Hoggard said she and her committee of about 14 people will begin getting the little pieces of the event in place as soon as January rolls around and then will start to get the school teachers involved and recruit volunteers.
To learn more about the Special Olympics and volunteer opportunities, contact Hoggard at 895-5946 or Jeanine Wall at 652-5050.
n Staff writer Eren Tataragasi can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 19 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.