Kansas Special Olympics meet on FHSU campus

Story by JOHN BILLINGER Photos by RAEGAN NEUFELD

Tiger Media Network

The Special Olympics State Basketball and Cheerleading tournament took place at Gross Memorial Colosseum this weekend. Activities started on Friday and continued until Saturday. 

According to Special Olympics Kansas CEO John Lair, the organization provides sports and opportunities for athletes with intellectual disabilities. The group started in 1970, and since then Lair said they are extremely proud of their continued growth. 

Lair

Lair has spent 32 years with Special Olympics, 25 of which were spent as a coach. 

“I couldn’t imagine my life without Special Olympics in it,” Lair said. “I feel bad almost on some days because I get to hang out with the greatest athletes and some of the greatest people you’ll ever meet.”

Every year, the number of athletes in the programs grows.

“We have a young athletes program,” he said. “Officially you have to be eight years old to be a Special Olympics athlete. So they just need to have a physical done and register through a local team or individually. We have about 6500 athletes state-wide that we provide services for.”

Revilla

Throughout the year, different competitions take place in cities across the state including Wichita, Manhattan, Dodge City, and Pittsburgh. Each year, they have 20 tournaments that cover about 20 different sports. These sports include basketball, track, flag football, cheerleading, snow shooting, and bacci bowling. The average turnout for the athlete at each of these venues includes 1,300. 

Throughout these tournaments and meetings, there are various people who volunteer. Among them is Layla Revilla, who has been volunteering for Special Olympics for three years. Her duties for Friday and Saturday were to help athletes sign in and get them to where they needed to be.

For Revilla, there is a personal connection to her volunteering. 

“I specialize in Special needs, and getting to help here is really nice,” she said. “I am currently working as a CNA for people with special needs. One of the people I take care of is doing Special Olympics today, and I’m here to help support him and the whole organization.”

The next big Kansas Special Olympics event will be on Wednesday at the Girard Activity Center in Girard. Attendees will compete in a Cornhole tournament.

Top
%d bloggers like this: