Athletes Prepare for Summer Games 2016

matt and sue

Matt Paoletti and Sue Eversman representing Buncombe County at the 2015 Special Olympics NC Fall Games.

In the days following Spring Games, Buncombe County Special Olympics has been charging hard to prepare for the Special Olympics North Carolina Summer Games in High Point, North Carolina from June 3-5, 2016.

Susan Paoletti, one of the pillars of our program has graciously agreed to serve as Head of Delegation and has spent countless hours coordinating with Buncombe County Recreation Services staff to make sure all of our paperwork is in order and that our athletes have the resources needed to compete at their maximum potential.  Susan will be accompanied by a team of extremely dedicated volunteer coaches and chaperones.

Buncombe County is sending a total of 55 delegates to this year’s Summer Games, 40 of whom are athletes in our program (the other 15 are the coaches and volunteers supporting the athletes).  These 40 athletes represent the dedication that all of our year-round program participants put into their sports and the commitment they have to serving as ambassadors for our program.

Buncombe County delegates will showcase their talents in cheerleading, gymnastics, aquatics, bowling, and athletics (track and field).  Our delegates will participate in a weekend’s worth of competitions, arriving on Friday and working their way through competitive brackets throughout the weekend.  Summer Games schedule is compressed and requires a tremendous amount of focus and resolve on the part of both our athletes and volunteers.  Given tight budgets and logistics constraints, many athletes will be traveling without their families and caretakers relying on their Buncombe County Special Olympics family for support.

fallgames

Athletes grab a bite to eat and plan the next day’s events at the 2015 Special Olympics NC Fall Games.

Summer Games is of course not all work.  Athletes and volunteers will have the opportunity to socialize with others in programs throughout the state and to revisit friendships that have been kindled through years of state and regional events.  Athletes will attend the Opening Ceremonies on Friday evening showing their pride in our program.  Throughout the weekend, our volunteers will shuttle athletes to a variety of competitions scattered among venues across High Point, Raleigh, and Cary.  On Saturday night delegates will have the opportunity to put on their best dance wear and join in the festivities at the Olympic Village and Dance.  As always, our program (and the efforts of the Special Olympics North Carolina) focus on providing a once in a lifetime experience that rewards the work that it takes to be selected for Summer Games.

If there is an unfortunate side to our program, it’s the need to always focus on fundraising.  We are extremely lucky to have a wide base of community support and to be able to offer all of our programs at opportunities at no charge to our athletes.  Unlike conventional sports and athletic programming, we don’t charge registration fees and we provide our athletes all the equipment and training they need at no cost.  This places demands on our program to constantly have an eye toward fundraising and costs.  We focus on driving our costs down to the absolute minimum.  This often means that our already generous volunteers are donating use of their vehicles and personal resources to make events happen.  You can see the breakdown below of what our expected costs are for Summer Games.  Clearly, few programs can match our per athlete cost in sending athletes across the state for a weekend competition.CostBreakdown.PNGWe always need support.  Whether it’s through monetary donation or through volunteer hours.  We currently have a campaign underway to offset our cost of Summer Games so that we can continue to have funding available that allows us to expand our program and offer more opportunities to the community we serve.  We have raised $292 of the estimated $4,000 we need to offset this year’s Summer Games cost, so if you can support our athletes, please consider a donation today.  Any amount will help our program focus on athletes rather than fundraising.  If you have an idea for another way to contribute (such as snacks for Summer Games), please shoot us an e-mail (special.olympics@buncombecounty.org) or call us at 828.250.4265.

 

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