Lee County Special Olympics gears up for summer events

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The members of the Lee County Special Olympics basketball team are getting ready for the 2014 Special Olympic games June 14-21 in New Jersey. In addition to basketball, Lee County will field athletes in swimming, bowling and track and field.
Photo by Daniel Chesser

By Daniel Chesser
Opelika Observer

Athletes with the Lee County Special Olympics are taking their talents to New Jersey next week to participate in the 2014 Special Olympic USA Games.

On June 14 (through June 21) Lee County is sending 16 athletes to compete in basketball, track, swimming and bowling.

“We have had athletes go to the national level previously in track and field, partners golf and gymnastics,” said Dana Stewart, special programs coordinator for Lee County Special Olympics. “This the first year that we have had this many athletes going.”

The state of Alabama has the second largest delegation of athletes competing this year at nationals, according to Stewart.

Several fundraising events made this trip possible for the athletes, including the Love Your Heart Run/Crank Your Heart Ride and the Polar Plunge at the Opelika Sportsplex and Aquatic Center, in addition to private donations. Taziki’s, a new restaurant in the area, presented a $1,247.50 check to the Lee County Special Olympics this past March.

“I am proud of the fact of what we have accomplished as a county and the athletes we get,” Stewart said.

Funds are always a need for the local special Olympians, but money was most recently raised on May 31 at McAlister’s sweet tea and lemonade fundraiser, as well as on May 2 with the annual “Cops on Tops” at Kroger in Auburn with the Auburn Police Division.

The athletes will depart Lee County on the morning of June 14 via an I-85 Groome Transportation shuttle that will take them to Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport to fly to New Jersey.

Opening ceremonies will be held at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., June 15.

The Lee County group is already looking forward to the many activities that surround the games on their trip.

“One night we are taking a dinner-boat cruise to Manhattan and Ellis Island,” Stewart said. “And on another night we are going to a Trenton Thunder baseball game.

“This is all scheduled between practices and preliminaries up until the final events.”

The Lee County Special Olympics program has a wide variety of participants when it comes to their athletics, with an age-range from 8 to 68, according to Stewart.

For more information about the Lee County Special Olympics program contact Alison Hall or Dana Stewart at 501-2930, or join the e-newsletter list by submitting an e-mail address to Hall, or become a member of the group’s Facebook group page by visiting Facebook and searching for the Special Olympics Alabama Lee County fan page.

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