The 2006 Special Olympics is not only a rewarding experience for the athletes, but the coaches consider themselves lucky to be able to work with the children and train them for the big day.
Erin Moore, special programs coordinator for the Richmond Parks and Recreation Department, also is the local coordinator for the Madison County Special Olympics.
Moore enjoys watching the athletes become better and stronger through practice and lessons, she said.
"This is a very rewarding experience," Moore said. "We've been practicing for the past three months and they've come so far. They seem to be getting better and faster every week."
Beatrice Burman, assistant program coordinator for Richmond Parks and Recreation and Special Olympic coach, says teaching the athletes the skills they need is the "very best job to have."
"It's not only rewarding personally, but you can actually see the difference it makes in each of the athletes lives," she said.
Burnam became involved with Madison County Special Olympics through the participation of family and friends and was excited to find that being a coach would be part of her job with the parks and recreation department.
"I love being able to be the encourager and letting them know that they are the very best," Burnam said. "Their abilities may not be top level, but I like just being the person who gets to show them how to do the activities. Everything they give back to us is really amazing."
Around 1,027 athletes have registered and approximately 1,200 are expected, Buerger said. Twenty-nine of 2006's registered athletes are from Richmond, he said.
This year also features five first-time Madison County competitors, including: brothers Chase Barnes, 10, and Jordan Barnes, 14; Steven Brockmeyer, 15; Tyler Gay, 12; and Alyssa Yorty, 17.
This year's Special Olympics will be conducted the first weekend in June and will begin at 7 p.m. Friday, June 2, in the ravine at Eastern Kentucky University. Saturday's events will begin between 8 and 9 a.m., depending on the sport, Buerger said.
Olympic Town will open at 10 a.m. Saturday, which is an interactive festival experience. It will provide activities, food and prizes for athletes between their competitions. Olympic Town will feature the Healthy Athletes Wellness Village, which provides free dental screenings, pediatric and physical therapy evaluations, vision screenings and glasses, if needed, Buerger said.
Other activities included in the weekend's events will be inflatable games, a Lexington Legends booth and athletes will have the opportunity to have their picture taken and framed.
Volunteers are still needed to help with concessions and games, said Mary Dee Boemker, who also is helping coordinate the event. Volunteers would need to work Saturday, June 3, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Another annual feature to the Special Olympics is the Flame of Hope run. The run will begin at Arlington Country Club, go into downtown and end at the steps of City Hall. The run is made by about 100 Kentucky police officers and is approximately 2.8 miles long.
The original cauldron which is lit during the opening ceremony has been retired and this year will feature the new version.
It is 8 feet tall, made of aluminum construction and was designed and built by Scott Welsh of Paris, Ky., who donated all of the labor.
"The old cauldron was 21 years old and with all the travel it goes through, it was looking pretty rugged" Buerger said.
The Special Olympics are for intellectually challenged athletes who have qualified in a regional tournament for their sport. They will compete in a variety of areas, including swimming, gymnastics, track and field, powerlifting and soccer.
Anyone interested in volunteering can call the Special Olympics of Kentucky at 1 800-633-7403 or call Buerger at 1-502-695-8222, Ext. 105.
Ronica Shannon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
or 623 1669, Ext. 234.
What started with a groundbreaking in January on Martin Luther King. Jr. Day, continued Saturday as community members gathered to build a home for Tasha Jones and her 5-year-old daughter Ajah.
The home at 421 Orange St., which will be worked on for the next 10 Saturdays, is the second Building on a Dream construction project organized by the Madison County Habitat for Humanity.
"The dream of Dr. King should become all of our dreams," said Elder John Settles, co-chair of Building on the Dream 2006. "We should all live the dream by putting it into practice. Working and building this home, I feel, is exactly what he would want."
Jones, who drove in the first nail of the day, said she and her daughter are blessed to be able to soon have their own house.
"We came up here (Friday) evening and I put (Ajah) up (on the base of the home,)" she said. "She walked through it. She's pretty happy and excited."
While the project was inspired by King's lifetime of work of unity and civil rights, Richmond Mayor Connie Lawson told participants she also wants people to remember his wife, the late Coretta Scott King, whom she called "her hero."
"Let's build this house for both of them," she said.
The project also is a way to come together and get to know one another, said Guy Patrick, co-chair of Building on a Dream.
"In the times in this community when we find so many occasions for tension, this is a very positive experience," he said.
Judge Linda Murnane, executive director of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, also joined in the celebration.
"It gives a new concept to the idea of a dream home to be building on the dream," she said. "What a special, special experience it is to be part of this."
Murnane, who spent more than 29 years as a service veteran in the military, said it is appropriate that people came together on Memorial Day weekend to work on the home for the Jones family.
"I can't think of a better way to honor our war dead than to build a home for someone who needs one and deserves one," she said. "It builds on the best principles of our nation; home ownership, equal opportunity for everyone and a place to call your own."
Bryan Marshall can be reached at email@example.com or 624-6691.
· Adopt-A-Shelter Cat Month Promotes the adoption of cats from local shelters. ASPCA Public Affairs Department, 212-876-7700, Web site.
· International People Skills Month Encourages people to get better jobs, improve the office atmosphere, and increase rapport with their family. How? By refining people skills and learning how to "depuzzle" human behavior. Karla Brandau, president, People Skills International, 770-923-0883, E-mail, Web site.
· Sports America Kids Month Encourages the health and well-being of all America's children. Judith Natale, National Children & Family Awareness Council of America, 888-622-3375.
International Volunteers Week Honors men and women throughout the world who serve as volunteers, rendering valuable service without compensation to the communities in which they live. Also honors nonprofit organizations dedicated to making the world a better place in which to live. For complete info, send $4 to Stanley Drake, president, International Society of Friendship and Goodwill, 8592 Roswell Road, Suite 434, Atlanta, Georgia 30350-1870.
June 28-July 2 :
Kiwanis International Convention Montréal, Canada.
Back to Richmond Kiwanis Introduction Page