St. Bonaventure University will host several events this week in partnership with Special Olympics.
On Thursday, Sept. 22, Neal Johnson, president and CEO of Special Olympics New York (SONY), will lead a discussion highlighting the current social environment — including recent progress and challenges — for people with intellectual disabilities. The program begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Athletics Hall of Fame Room in the Reilly Center and is free and open to the public.
Johnson’s visit is sponsored as part of the All Bonaventure Reads programming series and the IDEAL campaign. The 2016-17 all-campus reads selection, “The Boys in the Bunkhouse,” tells the story of men with intellectual disabilities who endured decades of exploitation — living in an old schoolhouse and working at a turkey-processing plant in Iowa for little pay — before finding justice and freedom.
Johnson, a member of SBU's Class of 1973, became involved with Special Olympics in 1975 when he was asked to help establish the program in his hometown, the Bronx. Since then he has served SONY at all levels and in all aspects of the organization.
After serving as vice chair of the SONY board, Johnson was named president and CEO in 1997. Under his leadership, SONY has become the largest Special Olympics program in North America and the sixth largest in the world, serving 65,000 athletes and involving 35,000 volunteers. During Commencement Exercises in 2014, Johnson was recognized by his alma mater with an honorary degree.
On Thursday, a soccer coaches clinic with head women’s soccer coach Steve Brdarski and the women’s soccer team will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the soccer field. Sponsored by the Physical Activities Club and the women’s soccer team, the clinic is open to anyone interested in being certified as a Special Olympics soccer coach. The coaches clinic will be held in conjunction with a Unified Soccer Clinic with students with intellectual disabilities from Olean. SBU students who want more information should contact Dr. Paula Scraba at email@example.com.
On Friday, Sept. 23, the university will host the Second Annual Polar Spray on the outdoor basketball courts between with Richter and Reilly centers. Participants garner donations with a pledge to be sprayed by a fire hose, courtesy of the Allegany Fire Department. Registration begins at 3 p.m. followed by the spray at 4 p.m.
Participants and onlookers are invited. Register by printing a pdf registration form or by registering online.
The Polar Spray is an All Bonaventure Reads Passport Event and also helps kick off Family Weekend. A pizza party will be awarded to the group that raises the most money. Funds raised by the Polar Spray will support the cross-country team’s Polar Plunge team, which will be taking a dip in Lake Erie Dec. 3, as well as the Olean-area Special Olympics Unified Team Sports Program. Unified Sports is an initiative that brings people with and without intellectual disabilities together on the same team to compete.
For more information about the Polar Spray, contact Erica Raepple with Special Olympics New York at firstname.lastname@example.org or Scraba at email@example.com.
St. Bonaventure has chosen the nonfiction book “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson as its common read for 2015-2016. This All Bonaventure Reads selection explores the inequity embedded in the U.S. criminal justice system.
“Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” was released in October and focuses mainly on the work of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala., a legal practice Stevenson founded as a young lawyer that is dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need.
One of Stevenson’s first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. It transformed the lawyer’s understanding of mercy and justice forever and illustrates numerous ongoing challenges in work advocating for social justice.
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7 p.m. | Monday, Oct. 26
Address by: Anthony Ray Hinton (above, right), an exonerated death row inmate, and Charlotte Morrison, senior attorney with the Equal Justice Initiative
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