The non-profit organization Area 28 offers a free year round program for athletes with disabilities in DeWitt. A branch of the Special Olympics, Area 28 also provides skills programs for children under the age of 8 with intellectual and physical disabilities, and is designed to train the athletes in an organized course so they can possibly play in the competitive games one day.
“When people think of the Special Olympics they think of the summer games, but it’s not just that. It’s a year round program. We have sports every season,” Area 28 Assistant Director Kathy Logan explains. “Our goal is for our athletes, people with intellectual disabilities, to be a part of the community, and be themselves, very capable.”
Area 28 offers sports for every athlete.
“We do snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, then it’s basketball season, after basketball it’s summer games, bowling, bocce which is lawn bowling, aquatics/swimming, track and field, horseshoe, volleyball, and now we are doing floor hockey and bowling,” Logan said.
The skills program trains athletes to prepare for the big games, but it also is convenient for athletes who cannot be very competitive.
“I am in the skills group because of my physical disability. I can’t handle being pushed around,” athlete Ken said.
Area 28 is a nonprofit organization ran strictly by volunteers. Each area of the Special Olympics raises money to cover their costs. Logan and Area 28 Director Debbie Cornell have been involved for over 20 years.
“My motivation is the athletes and the people I work with,” Cornell explains. “They’re the ones that make me want to do this. They’re the ones that keep me going with their enthusiasm and sportsmanship. They’re such a loving group and they just want to play. That’s what keeps me going.”
The group also modifies their programs based on the abilities of the athletes.
“Say we are playing basketball, we play with the same rules as a high school game, but we have modifications,” Logan explains. “One of our biggest differences is that everyone gets awarded. If you win first, second or third place, you get a medal, and after that they are awarded ribbons.”
Area 28 also hosts an annual Holiday dance and a Halloween Party.
Because Area 28 is a nonprofit organization, they rely on contributions from local individuals, businesses and organizations as well as fundraising.
“If we don’t have the money we just don’t participate,” Logan says. “We are volunteers, and I have my dedicated set of volunteers, but getting other volunteers is hard. We try to get a lot of our athletes and families involved but we live on donations. It’s not always easy to fundraise,” Logan adds.
“We have to budget,” says Cornell. “For every athlete it costs, we have to show on paper how we are going to fund raise in our budget.”
The main fundraisers are the Golf Scramble in June of every year, and the 2-8 walk which is the first Saturday of October, but they also take donations.
“We try not to sell too much stuff because we have to fund raise in our group with our families so we try to think of different ways our families can be involved. We are always looking for different ways (to fundraise),” Logan says.
For more information on becoming an athlete, volunteer, or sponsor, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org