By Morgan Bryce

The public is invited to attend the annual “Special Olympics Iron Bowl” Nov. 18 at Duck Samford Stadium in Auburn.
Special needs athletes from Lee and Tuscaloosa counties will participate in the flag football contest as a part of the ongoing “College Rivalry Series,” a way to promote both county’s Special Olympics programs and help raise vital funding for the organizations.
“We are really encouraging the community to come out and support our athletes, and we’re using the Iron Bowl both as an opportunity to raise awareness and help support our efforts,” said LCSO Director Elizabeth Kaufman.
Beginning at 1 p.m., members of Auburn High School’s self-contained classroom and marching band will lead off with a performance of the national anthem followed by a statement of encouragement from newly elected City of Auburn Mayor Ron Anders. Two Lee County athletes will lead the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance and in a recitation of the LCSO oath.
Representatives from Auburn University’s Via College of Medicine and Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity will serve as peer partners on the field with athletes.
Throughout the contest, Auburn High School’s pep band and cheer squad, along with Auburn Junior High’s and LCSO’s special needs cheer squads, will provide sideline entertainment.
This will be Kaufman’s second Iron Bowl event to coordinate, and she said she is looking forward to seeing the genuine happiness and excitement on the faces of her athletes.
“I was very excited to see the Iron Bowl come to life … the moment that our athletes ran out on the field to start the game (last year), I was so pumped up. You know how hard they worked and you see the looks on their faces, they’re in full concentration and they’re ready and they’re fired up for the game,” Kaufman said. “Seeing that look of passion in their eyes is so exciting to see.”
Lee County looks to defend its title after a close win last year in Tuscaloosa.
Admission is free, but there will be a freewill offering at the gate and concessions will be offered during the game. Proceeds will directly benefit the mission and event of the LCSO as well as equipment and travel costs.
For more information or updates on the event, like and follow the “Special Olympics Alabama – Lee County” Facebook page or call 334-501-2939. The venue is located at 1600 E. University Drive.