By Morgan Bryce
Twenty athletes and coaches from Lee County will travel with Team Alabama to participate in the 2018 National Special Olympics Games in Seattle this summer.
Team Alabama, a contingent of 102 athletes and 33 coaches, will compete in events ranging from bowling and flag football to powerlifting and tennis.
Alison Hall, a member of the City of Auburn’s Parks and Recreation Department, said the trip to Seattle is a dream come true for many of the athletes.
“The athletes are full of heart and compassion, and they share their enthusiasm and laughter with everyone they meet. They are talented, dedicated athletes who love to compete and love all the opportunities Special Olympics programs and sports provide,” Hall said. “All of these athletes learn about teamwork, they set goals and work on improving themselves. Involvement in Special Olympics is a way to improve their social skills and it’s a great form of exercise. As the athletes improve their skills, and work their way up through local competitions, regionals, state games and more, it provides them with an opportunity to travel, and for some, it may be their first time to travel out of their hometown or even the state.”
Following is a breakdown of the Lee County team by event:
– Four athletes in track and field
– One athlete in bowling
– Nine athletes in Unified Volleyball
– One coach in aquatics
– Two coaches in stand-up paddle boarding
-Three coaches in Unified Volleyball.
Hall added that Lee County’s Special Olympics program is supported by local individuals, businesses and groups and receives funding from annual events like “Cops on Top” and “The Polar Plunge.”
“Because of all the efforts locally and funds raised across the state of Alabama, athletes and coaches do not have to pay anything to attend the National Games. All expenses, including travel, lodging, food and clothing, are covered by the generosity of so many in our community,” Hall said.
The National Games will be held from July 1-7 and televised by ESPN.
For more information, visit www.specialolympicsusagames.org/, specialolympicsalabama.com/ and www.facebook.com/specialolympicsalleeco.