BC Special Olympics Benefits Athletes and Volunteers Alike
Kevin Slattery, Special Olympics BC Athlete, poses with newly purchased equipment.
Published: Thursday, September 12, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 12, 2013 01:09
“If you played sports when you were younger, or if you were involved in any community activity, what benefits did you get out of that? What lessons did you learn? What relationships did you build? What opportunities were you given?”
Those questions were posed by Steve Huftalen, the Assistant Vice President of Corporate Development and Special Events for Special Olympics Massachusetts, at the recent announcement of Special Olympics Boston College (SOBC) as an official group on campus. SOBC has been an unofficial club at BC since 2006, and this summer was approved and recognized as an official student organization.
Headed by Pat Luchini A&S ’14 and Danny Corning A&S ’15, SOBC is striving to establish itself on campus this year with the help of BCPD. BCPD Officer Kevin Christopher is SOBC’s staff advisor, and BCPD as a whole has embraced a key position in supporting this group.
SOBC coaches two soccer teams, the Double Dragons and the Freight Trains, and a volleyball team. There are a total of 24 Special Olympic athletes training with SOBC, ages 19-56 years old, all from the Greater Boston area. These teams provide the opportunity for individuals with intellectual disabilities to focus on new activities, and the opportunity to be successful and celebrate that.
Kevin Slattery, SOBC athlete, BC Dining Employee, and one of the star soccer players on the Double Dragons, joined the conversation. He said he has “at least five or six gold medals” hanging on his wall, and shared his experience playing soccer and volleyball.
“I think it’s worth getting the exercise,” Slattery said. “It’s fun doing those sports and I enjoy doing all that.”
Last year during Senior Week, BCPD participated in their annual “Dunk-a-Cop” fundraiser, with the money raised used to purchase necessary new soccer balls, volleyballs, equipment bags, and pumps for SOBC. This equipment was formally donated to SOBC at the organization’s announcement event.
BCPD Sergeant Jeffrey Postell, Sergeant of Community Relations, shared his experience as At-Large Director of MA LETR, the Law Enforcement Torch Run. Postell has been involved for the past 14 years with Special Olympics North Carolina and Massachusetts, and “never regretted it.”
LETR, affectionately referred to as the “Guardians of the Flame,” raises funds and awareness year-round to support Special Olympics athletes. Postell describes his role with Special Olympics as “part of the job.” He believes it to be a standard component of being a police officer and a guardian, and following in the Jesuit tradition of being a person for others.
Christopher, the organization’s faculty advisor, shared his reasons for connecting with SOBC as well. Christopher’s experience with individuals that have special needs started during his night patrols through the Campus School. He remembers reflecting on the pictures decorating the Campus School halls, and the happiness and smiles evident on the student’s faces.
Christopher has come closer to this community over the years, and now is very involved with Special Olympics through BC. He describes his experience with SOBC as one of the most rewarding things he has done. A reason for this is the sincerity and purity of the athletes when they smile and say “thank you” for helping with Special Olympics. And he says there is a similar authenticity in the coaches and volunteers.
“Heroes don’t always wear badges,” Christopher said. “Sometimes they wear Double Dragon shirts.”
SOBC’s goals for the year include continuing to fundraise, as well as to develop a strong and sustainable organization on campus. They aim to retain a core group of volunteers, hopefully training as many of these volunteers as possible as coaches. Both co-presidents, Luchini and Corning, are trained and certified coaches, a process of day long training for each sport they coach, along with an online component.
Fundraising events for SOBC include a Truck-Pull coming up in two weekends, on Sep. 21. Beginning at 10 a.m., teams of 10 people can compete for the chance to bring home the Truck-Pull trophy. Other fundraising plans for the year include a 5k run in October, and continued SOBC participation in the Polar Plunge. Events to raise awareness and create experiences are what count. As Corning pointed out, the Special Olympics Athlete Oath embodies the experience and dignity of these athletes.