The Statesboro Kiwanis Rodeo may be over, but local club members aren’t slowing down.
They’ll don their signature colors Friday for the Council for Exceptional Children’s 2012 Spring Special Olympic Games at Statesboro High School. The event will begin with an athlete parade at 9 a.m. and continue with competitive events until 1 p.m.
Bulloch County’s fall, winter and spring Special Olympics would not be possible without community members and organizations, such as the Statesboro Kiwanis Club, who are willing to serve as volunteers.
“We couldn’t do it without them,” said Sam DiGregorio, a behavioral analyst for the Bulloch County school system, who coordinates the games.
“We’ve done it all,” said Kiwanian Charles Dunn, who serves on the club’s 10-member Special Olympics Committee.
“We’ll go anywhere they need us,” James Dutrow said.
And they’ve done just that. In the 15 years they have volunteered with the event, they have staffed the records tent, cooked food, pitched softballs and held the stopwatches and victory tape for track and field races. Their bright yellow attire has become synonymous with Special Olympics.
Of equal importance is their role as cheerleaders.
“It’s always a happy time,” Kiwanian Gene Murkinson said. “(Special Olympians are) always happy, and they make us happy.”
“It’s great seeing them do things they didn’t realize they could do,” Dutrow added.
The Kiwanis Club has formed such a bond with these students that they serve them in other ways. During the annual Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair, the club hosts “Wednesday Morning,” a time when special-needs children from throughout the area are invited to enjoy the fair by themselves.
“Some of the kids remember you from Special Olympics,” Kiwanian Danny Foglio said. “We help them on rides, give them hats. It’s great.”
The Kiwanis Club also has made financial donations to special education in the school system. Most recently, the organization gave $1,000 to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing program.
Volunteers are always needed throughout the year for Special Olympics. Individuals or groups interested in volunteering or in being trained and certified as coaches can contact Samantha DiGregorio at email@example.com or (912) 212-8591.