PHOTOS (Click Here)
GREENWOOD, IN - The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) had close to 25 HCAC student-athletes participate in a unified bowling event with approximately 25 Special Olympics of Indiana athletes from Johnson County at Southern Bowl in Greenwood, Indiana on Sunday afternoon. The occasion continued the conference’s and NCAA Division III’s partnership with Special Olympics and capped off NCAA Division III Week festivities.
The bowling activity followed the annual HCAC SAAC spring meeting, which was held at Valle Vista Golf Club in Greenwood, Indiana. The SAAC group elected officers for 2014-15 and witnessed a presentation by Special Olympics Indiana.
“There is no greater sight than a smile,” stated Alicia Kalik, HCAC SAAC President. “Seeing the smiles on the faces of both the Special Olympians and the HCAC athletes reminds me that the little time we do spend together, makes such an enormous difference.”
Special Olympics is a global, nonprofit organization which gives participants the chance to develop fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and share those skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and community members by providing year-round sports training and athletics competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
“The annual HCAC SAAC unified bowling event was as fun as ever,” stated Michael Furnish, President/CEO of Special Olympics Indiana. “In the fourth year of our partnership we're beginning to see how much the HCAC can be instrumental in leading social inclusion of people with disabilities.”
The partnership between the HCAC SAAC and Special Olympics aligns with the Division III strategic-positioning platform as the student-athlete becomes more involved in the local community.
“I am very pleased that we are able to partner with Special Olympics,” says HCAC Commissioner, Chris Ragsdale. “The timing of this event fit perfectly with the conclusion of NCAA Division III Week and helped further expand the conference’s community outreach efforts with Special Olympics. Today’s event has been designed specifically to promote and challenge our membership to continue their outreach with Special Olympics.”
At the event, student-athletes from the HCAC exchanged a gift from their institution with their Special Olympic athlete pair to help commemorate the event.
Kalik added, "Bowling with the Special Olympians is a gift to us athletes. The smiles that they have on their faces by being able to bowl with college athletes are so bright and mean so much. This event is far more than just bowling; it is building friendships and relationships that we will always cherish."
“It is a rare and very special moment when you are able to create a sporting event (bowling) where Special Olympic athletes and intercollegiate athletes are able to share a competitive experience. The experience of sharing in the joy and excitement of competition together is a moment neither group will soon forget,” added Ragsdale.
For the first time scores were kept to create a little competition among all the athletes. Defiance College, along with their Special Olympians, captured the title with a score of 811. Rose-Hulman placed second with a score of 780, while Manchester finished third (770). Anderson (768), Mount St. Joseph (763), Bluffton (756), Franklin (734), Earlham (688), and Hanover (670) rounded out the standings.