KU Student-Athletes Bowl with Special Olympians

May 4, 2008

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Student-athletes from the University of Kansas spent their Sunday afternoon at Royal Crest Lanes in Lawrence hosting more than 75 Kansas Special Olympians at the inaugural Jayhawk SAAC Special Olympics Bowling Challenge.

The Jayhawk Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) hosted the event as more than 100 student-athletes from all of the Kansas varsity sports had members in attendance, excluding the softball and baseball teams due to their scheduled competitions on Sunday. This included linebacker Mike Rivera, safety Darrell Stuckey, wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe, and linebacker James Holt from the 2008 Orange Bowl champion football team as well as Cole Aldrich and Tyrel Reed from the 2008 national champion men’s basketball team.

“This opportunity presents a great experience for both groups of athletes,” Kansas Special Olympics President and CEO Chris Hahn said. “The Special Olympics athletes follow and admire the KU student-athletes while the student-athletes gain an understanding of the true meaning of the word athlete. Both groups of athletes learn they are more alike than different.”

Katie Martincich, junior on volleyball, led the student-athlete committee in planning the event along with Special Olympics Kansas President/CEO Chris Hahn.

“With the great turnout from both Kansas Special Olympians and KU student-athletes we were able to have a fun afternoon of bowling,” said Martincich, who is a SAAC Executive Board member. “The bowling event allowed us to meet and interact with Special Olympians from throughout the state, and it also gave us the opportunity to have a good time with our fellow student-athletes.”

Cole Aldrich, Men’s Basketball freshman, added, “It’s a really good feeling to give back to the community that gives us so much support.”

The event supports the strengthening of the partnership with all Big 12 Conference institutions. Matt Baysinger, a senior on the track and field team and the Big 12 Conference SAAC Chair, believes the event builds the foundation for many future events. “The opportunity to work with Special Olympics at the bowl-a-thon was amazing. The Jayhawk student-athletes were all smiling – almost as big as the athletes from all of the Special Olympics teams. This was one of the first times that we have been able to work with Special Olympics with all of our teams, and it was an opportunity that will not be soon forgotten. I think I can speak on behalf of everyone when I say that I am very excited to have this opportunity again very soon.”

The Special Olympics is an international organization created to help people with intellectual disabilities develop self-confidence and social skills through sports training and competition. Among their other activities, Special Olympics conducts the Special Olympics World Games every four years.