Special Olympians brighten Jayhawks at annual Wilt Chamberlain Special Olympics Clinic

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Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk embraces a Special Olympian.

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Fresh off back-to-back come-from-behind victories against top-10 teams, Kansas basketball took time off from the grind by hosting approximately 100 Special Olympians at the 33rd Annual Wilt Chamberlain Special Olympics Clinic Sunday afternoon inside historic Allen Fieldhouse.

Nine teams from Special Olympics Kansas spent more than two hours with the nation’s third-ranked team as the goals were lowered in Allen Fieldhouse. Following a group stretch, the clinicians broke up into their teams and rotated among stations such as ball handling, layups, free throws and dunks. The clinic concluded with the Jayhawks signing autographs for the Special Olympians.

The annual Special Olympics clinic began in 1984 by former head coach Larry Brown. It was then renamed for KU legend Wilt Chamberlain, who left money from his estate to sustain the program.

“Special Olympics is a very worthwhile group that sacrifices a lot of their time and energy to make lives better for people who haven’t been dealt the same hand as what a lot of us have,” KU head coach Bill Self said. “I know a lot of the campers and their families are so appreciative but I think we get as much out of it or more than the campers actually do. It’s fun to be at a place that can spend time with a group that no matter what has happened in the past, whether you win or lose, it’s totally unconditional. They just want to be here today.”

Teams from all across the state of Kansas participated in the 2017 event. They included: JCPRD Rangers (Overland Park), Shawnee Storm (Shawnee), Wichita Independents, KCK Kings (Kansas City), Douglas County Jayhawks (Lawrence), Saline County Blue Thunder (Salina), Topeka Jr. Blues, Junction City and Butler County (El Dorado).

“We all have a great time at these events,” senior Frank Mason III said. “It speaks volumes to the character and tradition of this program to be able to host this event for so long. It means a lot to us to be around a special group and to interact with them. We really look forward to this each year.”

No. 3/3 Kansas (24-3, 12-2 Big 12) will host TCU (17-10 (6-8) on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 6 p.m. on ESPN2. The Jayhawks hold a three-game lead in the 2016-17 Big 12 race with four games remaining. KU is going for its unprecedented 13th-straight, 17th overall, Big 12 regular-season title. Kansas’ 59 conference regular-season crowns are the most in NCAA Division I and its 12-straight rank second all-time in NCAA Division I, one behind UCLA’s 13 consecutive from 1967-79.

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