Special Olympics: Heard of or Not

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The Special Olympics is a world-wide organization, whose goal is to encourage people with disabilities to become involved in sports, whether to be physically active or just to be competitive. Around Bloomsburg, not many people know about the Special Olympics. Some of the people have no idea what the goal of Special Olympic athletes is.

The Special Olympics have been helping people of all ages become more comfortable about playing a sport or game and becoming competitive. It has become a great part of Columbia County’s community, encouraging and motivating individuals. There have been many successes with the program, including a girl by the name of Ashley Bressler, who have been given the chance to compete in the Special Olympics in China while attending high school.

Laura Davis, one of the managers for the Special Olympics, helps people to realize everything that goes on within the program and everything that they try to accomplish. She explained how long she has been involved with the program and when it came to Bloomsburg.

“I have been involved in the Special Olympics in Bloomsburg since it started which was in 1990. All together I have been involved in the organization since 1983, for 25 years now. It was a big part of where I grew up” Davis stated.

“When the Special Olympics came to Bloomsburg, they only had one event and that was bowling.”

The program has grown quite a bit over the years. “We have gotten more volunteers then we started out with, college students have become a great help. We have also incorporated more sports

While she was growing up, she became more interested in the program because they began to incorporate skiing into the schedule. When asked why she started volunteering and helping out Davis replied: “I always enjoyed skiing and when I heard that the Special Olympics was holding that as one of the events, I decided to become involved to help. I have enjoyed helping out since.”

She had quite a few different views on the program, but they all ended up back at the same situation. When asked how the program could be improved or what she would change about it she simply stated, “I would love to get more volunteers and money to afford the equipment we need.”

It turns out that the well planned program was missing a few important things. More volunteers to help teach the athletes involved, more helpers to work at the bingo fundraisers, more athletes to broaden their views on different events, and then money to help purchase the equipment needed for each event and sport.

The Special Olympics is a great experience for everyone and one thing that the organization needs is to get their name out in the community to get more participation to accomplish everything that they need to.

Davis has been involved with the Special Olympics for quite some time and when asked what her favorite event was, she replied, “Out of all the events I would have to say that the Bocce Bash is my favorite in Bloomsburg. This event brings athletes from all over the state to compete. It shows how much the athletes have learned, how they all make friends and are friendly and open, cheering other athletes on. The one time you get to see all the athletes from the state in one place. The skiing used to be my favorite, but Bloomsburg doesn’t hold it because of the distance from one of the closest ski slopes to Bloomsburg is too much.”

Over the past few years, the have been having the same problems. The problems included not having enough volunteers for certain events, not having enough money, and just recently is the concern of different fundraisers to help raise money. They have been holding bingo games for fundraisers, but they want to add a few others to try and get more money.

Members of the program have been pondering the question as to what kind of fundraiser would benefit them the most and they just can’t seem to think of any yet.

They have also been thinking of ways to get more volunteers to help out with specific events. College students help out a lot, but they tend to come to the events that they know the best and that tends to be the same event, like bowling or swimming, not bocce or basketball.

The Special Olympics is a great organization that just wants their name out there so they can get more volunteers and donations as well as ideas on new fundraising ideas.

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