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Special Olympics holds spring games on Elon campus

Elon University hosted Special Olympics Alamance County on Friday as athletes from surrounding communities visited campus for the nonprofit’s annual spring games. Several university students volunteered for the program, which included appearances by Elon Phoenix football players, cheerleaders and the Phoenix mascot.

On a warm spring day with blue skies above, an estimated 250 athletes – organizers didn’t have an exact count because some participants didn’t officially register – arrived at Belk Track and White Field to compete in track races, softball throws, soccer and basketball. A Special Olympics volunteer accompanied each athlete.

“Volunteers are critical,” said Special Olympics local coordinator Scott Reavis. “I couldn’t do it without them, and I get most of my volunteers from Elon.”

Elon will forever be linked with Special Olympics North Carolina. What was then Elon College hosted the first state games in 1972, just four years after the national games were first held at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Part of that legacy could be seen on Friday as current students offered their own reasons for volunteering. As it turns out, for some volunteers, it’s the mindset of the athletes that keeps them motivated. “They have a better attitude half the time than we do,” said Jon Hartzel, a second year student in the DPT program. “The Special Olympics is a great way for them to show off what they can do.”

Elon junior Lance Camp, a member of the Phoenix football team, was among the many Elon students who volunteered Friday with the Special Olympics.

“It’s a fun atmosphere, and all the athletes have a fun time,” said Shawn Valentine, another second-year DPT student. “All the volunteers have a fun time, too.”

To volunteer with Special Olympics Alamance County, which runs programs all year, contact Reavis at (336) 229-2230.

About 250 local athletes took part in the Special Olympics Alamance County spring games at Elon on April 16.
Eric Townsend,
4/16/2010 3:43 PM