On October 13, the Loras College Student-Athlete Advisory Committee combined forces with Special Olympics Iowa for a Play Day in the Graber Sports Center. One of the Loras student-athletes who helped coordinate the event was SAAC executive member Kinsey Campbell (’14) (Greendale, Wis.). She turned in this review of the day.
Last spring we hosted Special Olympics Iowa at Loras in the AWC for a Challenge Day. Many volunteer Duhawk athletes came out to help support it and had just as much fun as the participating athletes did. We knew we wanted to do it again with even more activities. This was our first time doing a “Play Day” with the Special Olympians.
It was very similar to what we did in the spring, but the biggest difference was this event was with just the younger athletes.
We had so many Loras student-athletes interested in signing up we had to turn some away! There were eight different events and every Special Olympics athlete was able to participate in each one.
“I had the opportunity to assist with the basketball event during the Play Day,” said Niki Rivera (’13) (Sterling, Ill.), a senior on the women’s basketball team, “It was an amazing experience. Seeing the kids smile with excitement and joy when they made a shot really made my day! This event made me take a step back and appreciate the abilities that I have been given. And I am looking forward to volunteering for Special Olympics again in the future.”
“I had the chance to assist with the 25-foot dash and it was an incredible experience,” said Jayne Eslinger (’13) (Chicago, Ill.), a student-athlete for the Loras women’s soccer team, “One of the participating boys was even able to get out of his wheelchair and walk the distance on his own despite his handicap. It was inspiring to see because each Special Olympics athlete had a smile on their face. That alone helped me gain a higher appreciation for my own abilities in athletics.”
“Being a team leader, I had the joy of working with a family of four - two energetic little boys and one happy little girl who were very helpful and encouraging to their older sister in a wheelchair. Each one loved all of the events,” said Amy Nader (’13) (Milwaukee, Wis.) who was a team leader for Play Day.
“I look forward to the next time the Special Olympics come to Loras!” stated women’s soccer player Kinsey Campbell.
Kathy Irving, the director of athlete initiatives at Special Olympics Iowa, once again shared her gratitude and appreciation for what the Duhawks did to help make the Play Day a success.
“It was awesome. AWESOME,” Irving proclaimed. “We had 27 athletes attend and based on some conversations I had on Saturday, I believe we’ll be able to make that number go up in the future,” she added.
“What made it such a great event was the (Loras) students,” Irving continued. “
They didn’t JUST volunteer and do their station, they interacted and really put themselves out there with our athletes. They got down there and played! Parents and first-timers were blown away with how well it went.”
“I’ve been doing this 23 years, I work with colleges all over the state, I can’t stress enough how well the Loras students do to put everything into making the event happen. The families of our athletes notice that – giving so much to our athletes. I could not have been happier with how it went.”
Special Olympics Iowa will return to the Loras College campus on April 27, 2013, for another “Challenge Day.”
Vote for your Duhawks! The NCAA Division III Special Olympics Spotlight Poll is a new story-telling initiative located on ncaa.org/D3SpecialOlympics. It features three new stories per month – each highlighting a Division III and Special Olympics joint activity or event.
The story with the highest number of votes on the 25th day of each month is the winner. That institution or conference will be given $500 to use for its next Special Olympics event. Other perks for winning include being recognized in the Division III Monthly Newsletter and on the Division III Special Olympics website.