Kansas Athletics Assists with Special Olympics Golf Benefit

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Nearly a dozen Kansas student-athletes stepped away from summer classes, training or vacation to volunteer their time at the Kansas Athletics Golf Classic supporting Douglas County Special Olympics at Alvamar Golf Club Monday afternoon, extending an annual partnership between the two athletic organizations.

This year’s field saw 20 teams compete in a four-person scramble, with plenty of mulligans for sale, a silent auction and an awards ceremony dinner Monday night. Kansas Athletics and the National Information Consortium (NIC) were title sponsors of the event, the largest fundraiser for Douglas County Special Olympics. Organizers had hoped to raise as much as $15,000 during the event, or nearly 75 percent of the chapter’s annual budget.

One hundred percent of the proceeds from the tournament benefit the local chapter, a volunteer-run organization that provides year-round training to individuals with special needs in the Douglas County area. Proceeds from the tournament will assist in purchasing sports equipment, uniforms and defraying the cost of tournaments and travel.

“This is our major fundraiser,” Special Olympics Parent-Volunteer Larry Saatoff said. “Between this and a bingo event in February, we have to come up with our budget for the year.

“The highlight for me, though, is interacting with all the Kansas student-athletes, having them interact with our Special Olympians, and interacting with the participants. It’s great to get all the different groups together and is good public relations for us. A lot of our events are well attended, but it’s a pretty close group – this event expands that group and allows other people to see what we do.”

Kansas student-athletes from the Jayhawk football, softball and women’s basketball teams joined area Special Olympians in greeting tournament participants, while members of the Kansas golf teams and coaching staffs helped willing participants with their golf efforts on the course.

“It’s awesome to come out and see everyone with full smiles and having fun,” Kansas football student-athlete Blake Jablonski said. “It’s a huge inspiration to come out here and see everyone helping out.”

Founded in 1970, Special Olympics Kansas has grown to include more than 100 local programs and teams across the state. Today, it touches the lives of more than 5,000 athletes who train and compete year round in 22 sports.

For more information about Douglas County Special Olympics visit www.dcsojayhawks.org.

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