A "Special" Olympic Night

Sept. 14, 2009

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Members of the KU Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) kicked off the year on Friday Sept. 4 with a special night for Special Olympians. In total there were 48 student-athletes that game together as a family to volunteer from Men’s Basketball, Rowing, Tennis, Men’s Track and Field, Women’s Track and Field, Softball, Swimming and Diving.

Special Olympians of all ages were invited to cheer on the No. 23 ranked KU soccer team and the KU volleyball team with current student-athletes. The soccer team defeated Long Beach 3-1, but the volleyball team lost to Florida International 3-1. However, the volleyball team did place 2nd overall in the Jayhawk Invitational.

The scores did not matter on Friday night. What mattered were the bonds that student-athletes formed with the Special Olympians.

“These events our smaller so we can build relationships with the Special Olympians,” Ally Stanton, SAAC executive board member and softball player, said. “Especially for the women’s non-revenue sports I love when the Special Olympians come and watch us play. They have so much enthusiasm. “

The look on the faces of the Special Olympians was priceless. They were smiling from ear to ear.

When, Lisa Young, a Special Olympians from Wellsville, Kan., was asked if she was a KU fan she said, “I sure am,” as she pointed down to her Jayhawk t-shirt.

In fact, almost all the Special Olympians sported Jayhawk attire, and many of them work at Mrs. E’s Cafeteria located on the KU campus.

The jokes and laughter were non-stop. One of the Special Olympians pretended it was his birthday and got everyone to sing to him.

Jordan Scott, track and field, has experience when it comes to Special Olympians

“My dad coaches an adaptive sports program in Georgia, and I’ve always been around helping people with different talents,” Scott said. “It’s really fulfilling me to do this.”

Many of the student-athletes stay in touch with their Special Olympic friends throughout the year.

“I am friends with some of the Special Olympics on Facebook!” Stanton said.

There will be more Special Olympic events to come in the future for KU student-athletes, but until then SAAC will be planning ways to make these nights just as great for all the Special Olympians that attend.

SAAC is a student-athlete run organization that aims to communicate with institutions with issues that concern student-athletes, and also to promote a positive image in academics, sportsmanship, persona and social development, and community outreach and career exploration. KU SAAC is affiliated with the Big 12 SAAC and the NCAA SAAC. Special Olympics is the charity of choice for the Big 12.