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St. Bonaventure University will once again partner with Special Olympics New York for the annual Special Olympics Unified Basketball Competition on Friday, April 21.
This year’s competition, which will involve running-clock games in both the Reilly Center and Richter Center gyms, includes 16 teams from Olean, Allegany-Limestone, Portville and Franklinville. Each team consists of athletes with and without disabilities.
As in past years, the Trooper Ross M. Riley leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run will kick off the activities. The torch run, named in memory of Allegany–area New York State Trooper Riley, will begin at 9 a.m. Friday in Olean’s Lincoln Park, near the intersection of West State and North Union streets. The approximately 3-mile route will take runners into the main arena of the Reilly Center for opening ceremonies, slated to begin around 9:30.
Along with the athletes and runners — including members from the university’s ROTC program and track team — nearly 100 volunteers from the participating schools and St. Bonaventure will assist with organizing the event. The university’s chapter of Knights of Columbus as well as the club ENACTUs will provide lunch for the volunteers, while Portville Central School’s meal service will provide lunch for the athletes.
The competition will be played in four total rounds, with a 1 p.m. awards ceremony concluding the event.
Dr. Paula Scraba, who organizes the event at St. Bonaventure, said the concept of unified athletics builds a positive atmosphere for athletes with and without disabilities. Students in Scraba’s senior forum class help her organize the event.
“Unified Sports totally changed the culture in schools, helping raise student self-esteem and confidence as well as proving mentoring opportunities for all athletes,” she said. “Students (in her class at the university) are given this ultimate opportunity to actually put into practice the true meaning of servant leadership through sport. The title of the course — Leadership through Special Olympics: serving, learning and leading — is exactly that — for students to be trained as event managers for Special Olympics and to now be able to go any place in the world to share their skills, gifts and talents to make a difference.”
All community members are welcome to participate in the Torch Run, which has a registration fee of $25 and includes an official event T-shirt. Runners should arrive at the park by 8:30 a.m. and expect to run at about a 10-minute-per-mile pace.
Those unable to run can participate by cheering along the course or riding bicycles along the route. All are invited to remain at the university and support the athletes in the competition.
For more information or to find out how to participate or volunteer, contact Scraba at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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