More than 250 area students will celebrate athletes of all abilities as they tip off the 5thannual Unified Basketball Competition at St. Bonaventure University April 24.
Some 18 teams from Salamanca, Olean, Allegany-Limestone, Portville and Franklinville school districts will participate in the daylong friendly competition. Each team, which consists of athletes with and without disabilities, will play three rounds of basketball. The annual event is co-sponsored by seniors in St. Bonaventure’s Event Management Class and Special Olympics New York.
Opening ceremonies begin at 9:30 a.m. in the Reilly Center Arena, followed by the first round of games tipping off at 10:05 a.m. Preceding the ceremony, the Trooper Ross M. Riley leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run will kick off the day’s activities. The torch run is named in memory of New York State Trooper Riley, who died in 2013 during a training exercise.
Dr. Paula Scraba, associate professor of physical education, said the annual Unified Basketball Competition is truly a community effort, from the teachers at area schools who help organize the teams, to local organizations.
Scraba noted that the Allegany Knights of Columbus is sponsoring lunch for the volunteers and the Olean Elks Club provided organizers with a grant to assist with a new scorers clock, sling bags and lunches for athletes. Corporate sponsors Cutco and the Iroquois Group are sponsoring St. Bonaventure students to run in the Torch Run.
The Unified Competition now welcomes players from fourth through 12thgrades.
“We are in our fifth year of competition, so we have grown as the athletes have progressed through school and still want to compete,” said Scraba.
Those who want to participate in the Torch Run and carry the Flame of Hope through Olean should be at the Olean City Building by 8 a.m.; the run will begin promptly at 8:30 a.m. at Lincoln Park. This is half an hour earlier than previous years.
The Torch Run will travel down West State Street and enter the Opening Ceremonies for the unified games. Runners are invited to stay and cheer on the athletes as they compete in these games.
The runners run about a 10-minute mile pace, in formation. All are welcome to participate and support Special Olympics. Every participant must have an official Torch Run shirt. They can be purchased online by going towww.tinyurl.com/LETR18or the day of the run for $25.
For more information about the Law Enforcement Torch Run, contact Olean Police Department Capt. Bob Blovsky at (716) 376-5673 or email@example.com, or Erica Raepple with Special Olympics New York at (716) 909-6444 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the University:The nation’s first Franciscan university, we believe in the goodness of every person and in the ability of every person to do extraordinary things. 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. Named the #5 best college value in the North by U.S. News and World Report, we are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition.
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