From Case Western Reserve University Athletics
The Veale Convocation, Recreation and Athletic Center played host to over 100 special-needs children for the second-annual Special Olympics Tournament at Case Western Reserve University on Friday, October 2nd.
The event, organized by the campus group Spartans for Special Olympics, provided an opportunity for a number of CWRU student-athletes to participate in the day’s events, further strengthening the partnership between NCAA Division III and the Special Olympics that has been in place since 2011.
"Special Olympians and Division III student athletes share a commitment to excel not only in the classroom and competition, but also as partners in service and passion,” said Case Western Reserve University Director of Athletics and Chair of Physical Education Amy Backus.
“Our Spartan student athletes had an opportunity to share their knowledge and love of their sport with our Special Olympian friends from the surrounding Cleveland communities today. Their smiles and laughter tell the story of the importance of this national Division III partnership. We are thrilled to help our CWRU Special Olympics committee make the day special for everyone."
Jake Shields, a junior on the CWRU baseball team, was one of the student-athletes who had an opportunity to participate in the event, running a wiffle ball home run derby station.
“We all had a blast doing it,” said Shields. “I think that the best part about getting the opportunity to work with the Special Olympics is seeing the joy on these kids' faces. They may not always get the opportunity to play like this and the Special Olympics give them that opportunity. That is what it's all about and why I do it.”
The partnership between NCAA Division III institutions and the Special Olympics provides the opportunity for student-athletes to engage with Special Olympics and collaborate with existing student-led programs on campus. It also serves as another opportunity to demonstrate the citizenship and comprehensive learning attributes of Division III student-athletes. Student-athletes giving back to their local (and often national and international) communities not only adds to the comprehensive learning component of Division III, but also provides a venue for passion and service.