There’s any number of misconceptions out there about Special Olympics and the intellectually disabled population it serves. Overall, the program continues to build support and opportunities for its athletes and acceptance within their communities. Matthew Williams explains the importance of the program with an eloquence that few can muster.
Buncombe County Special Olympics is a volunteer-driven, donation-funded program designed to create sporting opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities. We focus on inclusionary programming that builds connections between our athletes and the community. We don’t have staff members and we don’t pay for office space, the money donated to the program goes straight to creating opportunities for the athletes.
All this being said, fundraising is difficult for us. We often have to ask the same volunteers who coach and transport athletes to turn around and devote even more time to the program to help us run fundraisers. We want to focus more time on our athletes and less on the hustle, so we’re trying to get creative.
We’re asking Asheville coffee shops to help us by donating a penny from each cup of coffee they sell during the month of August.
We want to create a fundraiser that generates the largest amount of community support possible. While money will always help us alleviate our fundraising needs, this concept is more about increasing awareness of our local Special Olympics program. Buncombe County Special Olympics needs community support in order for us to thrive and support our athletes. We view each cup sold as a new connection.
Just like any sports team, we want the support of our hometown.
Our goal is to get as many Asheville coffee shops invested as possible. We’ll be listing participating locations with a map on our website. We’re hoping to generate a new community support and to show the power of collective advocacy. We’ll also work to create business linkages and customer drive to participating businesses through social media.
Enroll your business by calling 828.250.4265 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.We 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 (email@example.com) or call us at 828.250.4265.
It’s been a couple of weeks since our Spring Games and we’re already in the midst of planning for our next Buncombe County Special Olympics engagements. We are thrilled (and relieved now that we’ve had the chance to recuperate) to be able to check another successful event off our calendar for 2016. Spring Games, our largest annual event, served over 500 athletes and used the assistance of some 1000 volunteers to make the day’s events come together. The games were held on May 5 at TC Roberson High School. Although the weather was unexpectedly cool and blustery, it didn’t hinder our athletes or the volunteers from turning out in full force ready for a day of camaraderie and competition.
Special Olympics athletes from across Buncombe County assembled for the Spring Games, which focus on track and field style competition. Events included the softball toss, long jump, relay, and foot races. Spring Games brings an adaptive experience offering events catered to each athlete’s individual needs with a range between development skill events and traditional track and field athletics. The games also feature a Young Athletes Program for athletes between ages 2 and 7 who are not yet old enough to participate in the competitive events.
During the downtime between events, athletes and their “buddies” visited the “Olympic Village” for a number of entertaining exhibits and activities including face painting, dancing, art projects, fresh strawberries and more! Athletes were treated to lunch courtesy of Chick-fil-A.
This annual event takes place each spring after many hours of planning and collaboration with volunteers, sponsors, and school staff. Spring Games is an important event within Buncombe County Special Olympics’ offerings as it creates an opportunity for those who may not participate in our year-round programming an opportunity to experience the themes of accomplishment and social connection that are such a vital component of our program. Spring Games are a tremendous labor of love and a huge logistical undertaking that takes the focus and dedication of the entire community to create a meaningful experience for our athletes. The work of such a large team of volunteers is vital to the success of the games which bring the over 500 athletes together for a large number of competitive events all within the span of 3-4 hours.
We would like to give a huge shout out of thanks to all the folks who helped make this event a success:
The Chaddick Foundation, TC Roberson High School (staff and students), the Progressive Education Program, Buncombe County Law Enforcement Torch Run Crew, Skyland Fire Department EMS, Buncombe County Commissioner Joe Belcher, ABLE Rent-A-Jon, Coca Cola Bottling Company, Pepsi Cola, Hard Exercise Works Gym, Care Solutions Mobility, Asheville Rotary Club West, Knights of Columbus, Tim Lolley, Bill Keel (Biltmore Baptist Youth Program), LEAF Community Arts, Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department Crime Prevention, WNC Farmers Market, Carolina Pediatric Therapy, Fun Depot, Asheville Tourist Baseball, Texas Roadhouse, Char Bar No. 7, The Hop Ice Cream Café, Adams/Old Castle, Wild Wing Café, West End Bakery, Westville Pub, Standard Pizza Co., Pizza Hut, Target, Blush Asheville, Studio 828, the staff of Buncombe County Recreation Services and Grounds Maintenance, Chili’s Grill & Bar (Arden, NC), Party Blvd, and the many wonderful volunteers who donated their time to spend with athletes on this special day. We couldn’t have done it without you all!
Each year, we work to understand how we can improve and streamline Spring Games; the event is an ever evolving opportunity and we strive to continually enhance our offerings. If you participated and have not yet had a chance to provide your feedback, please do so. We are already working on Special Olympics Spring Games 2017, so if you are interested in volunteering to be part of this special day or if you are interested in coming on board as a sponsor let us know! Opportunities to get involved are as wide ranging and as flexible as your needs. Additionally, if you know of anyone who might benefit from the Buncombe County Special Olympics, please help us get them signed up!
Thanks for another amazing Spring Games! As always, we are looking to improve our program, so we’d love any feedback you can provide for us. Please complete the survey below. If you have anything that’s not covered by the survey, feel free to shoot us an e-mail or give us a call.
You can also access the survey directly at: