Special Olympics return to Simpson on April 18

by JT JordanStaff Writer

The Special Olympics participants will make their way back to Simpson for its annual track and field competition to be held in Bill Buxton Stadium and Cowles Center.

Participants for the games will be individuals from the West Central region of Iowa. They will gather to compete in a track style meet on April 18 to showcase their athletic talents.

Many Simpson students and faculty will also be on site supporting the athletes and volunteering to ensure the event is runs smoothly.

According to Simpson’s Web site, Special Olympics Iowa is a statewide organization providing persons with mental handicaps year-round sports training and competition in 23 Olympic-style sports. The Special Olympics is currently in its 26th year and holds more than 80 competitions on the state and local level per year.

These competitions rely greatly on volunteers who help out by working the events and also coaching the participants. Duties may be as simple as cheering on a competitor or ensuring the athletes are in the right place at the time of their event.

The organization is always welcoming of volunteers during the day of a competition and has made it easy to get involved.

“The easiest way to volunteer is show up during the day of the Olympics,” Junior Nate Seberg said. “They will accept volunteers the day of the event, and what these people will do to help is stand around the track and cheer on the athletes.”

Students can also volunteer beforehand to help out with the event by e-mailing Service Help V.I.S.T.A. Libby Ehrig and letting her know they are interested in helping.

Volunteers through Ehrig will be placed in two different three-hour shifts. The first shift will start at 8:30 a.m., and the second shift will start at 11:30 a.m. the day of the competition. However, if your schedule does not allow for you to be available for a whole shift, Ehrig encourages those who want to participate to still contact her and let her know when you can work.

“I know a lot of people have class, but at this point, whoever wants to be involved should contact me,” Ehrig said. “Even if you can only come for an hour or two, definitely e-mail me with your name and the time you would like to work.”

The Christian Opportunity Center of Indianola is also involved with the event. This organization aides persons with disabilities, as volunteers are called upon to assist these persons in vocational, residential, educational and rehabilitative activities. It is because of these services C.O.C. decided it would be a good idea to encourage those they help to participate in the Special Olympics.

“Here at The Christian Opportunity Center, we have approximately 10 athletes that will be involved,” C.O.C. Program Coordinator Leona Reetz said. “We just called up to the Special Olympics and they sent us down some information and forms to fill out for our athletes.”

The Special Olympics is a great opportunity to lend a hand to those who are less fortunate. The Simpson community is supportive of this event, as well as other various organizations in Indianola and throughout the state. This support has allowed the games to become an annual event and have provided the opportunity for disabled athletes to perform.