By Emily Carson, '14
St. Bonaventure University is partnering with Special Olympics New York to host a Special Olympics Unified Competition from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 24.
Special Olympics New York focuses on providing year-round sports training and competitions in a variety of Olympics-style sports for all children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
SBU’s unified competition will feature teams of students with and without intellectual disabilities. Approximately 100 athletes in grades four through seven from Olean, Allegany-Limestone, and Hinsdale schools will be participating.
The event will begin with a memorial run as part of the 2014 Law Enforcement Torch Run to honor Trooper Ross M. Riley. A 17-year veteran of the force and beloved member of the Allegany-area community, Riley, 44, was killed during a rappelling rescue training exercise at Letchworth State Park in November 2013.
The torch will begin its journey in Lincoln Park in Olean at 8:30 a.m., and end at St. Bonaventure’s Reilly Center.
Following the run, there will be an Olympic-inspired opening ceremony and unified games in both the Reilly Center and Richter Center. Lunch will be provided by Dresser-Rand, and a closing ceremony will end the event.
Students in two sections of Clare 401, the senior forum course offered at St. Bonaventure, have participated in an intensive Special Olympics Event Management Training Program to coordinate the Unified Competition. Special Olympics offers coaching certification in each of its offered sports. The first, a general session, includes protective-behavior workshops. The second part includes a set of coaching guidelines for each skilled area of the sport.
SBU will host the unified competition for the second year in a row, but Dr. Paula Scraba, associate professor of physical education at the university, hopes to continue and expand the event in years to come. She also hopes to include swimming in next year’s skills-development clinic.
“This small event has turned into a big community that’s beginning to include more students and schools,” she said. “We are promoting sports as a vehicle to increase peer relationships in school.”
The number of participants has already doubled since last year, according to Steve Mest, associate athletics director for strategic communications for the university.
Special Olympics New York is the largest Special Olympics program in North America and the sixth largest in the world. The organization has 64,659 athletes across the state compete and train in Olympic-style sports throughout the year, always at no cost to them or their families.
Members of the community are invited to volunteer for both events. Contact Dr. Paula Scraba at email@example.com or (716) 375–2444.
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. We are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition. Our students are becoming extraordinary.
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