Jayhawks Bowl with Special Olympians in Annual SAAC Event

April 27, 2009

LAWRENCE, Kan. – More than 70 University of Kansas student-athletes and 40 Special Olympians spent Sunday afternoon bowling at Royal Crest Lanes in Lawrence at the Second Annual Jayhawk SAAC Special Olympics Bowling Challenge.

The KU Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) hosted the event with KU varsity athletes, including football players Darrell Stuckey, Justin Springer and Darius Parish, women’s basketball standout Danielle McCray, men’s basketball team members Conner Teahan and Jeff Withey, 2008 Big 12 Sportsperson of the Year Katie Martincich of KU’s volleyball team and soccer’s Shannon McCabe, Julie Hanley and Monica Dolinsky.

“Sometimes I think as Division I athletes we think our academics and physical appearances are everything,” Stuckey said. “But after spending time with a Special Olympian you realize that it is the spirit within an individual that is worth more than anything.” Our spirit is what keeps us happy, smiling, laughing and enjoying life.”

The event supports the strengthening of the partnership of the Big 12 Conference, its member institutions and Special Olympics.

“The relationship between the KU student-athletes and the Special Olympics athletes is fantastic,” said Chris Hahn, President and CEO of Special Olympics Kansas. “They are beginning to recognize one another and several have kept in contact throughout the year. Both groups of athletes enjoy and appreciate the skills and abilities of the other group.”

Special Olympics was created to help people with intellectual disabilities develop self-confidence and social skills through sports competition and training. It is an international organization that conducts the Special Olympics World Games every four years.

“It was an incredible day,” KU senior diver Hannah McMacken said. “The room filled with smiles as we all watched Paul, a track and field Special Olympian, literally dance with excitement after making his first strike while bowling with student-athletes.”