Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt, is the motto repeated by each Special Olympics athlete at opening ceremonies across the globe.
For the fourth consecutive summer, Warner Robins will host the Georgia Special Olympics Masters Bowling Tournament, with more than 1,000 athletes from across the state participating.
The tournament will take place Aug. 22 at Gold Cup Lanes on Russell Parkway and the bowling alley on Robins Air Force Base. More than 400 volunteers, coaches and family members will join the athletes -- more than 1,700 participants already registered at our local hotels -- for three days that will include an opening ceremony, bowling, pizza party, health fair and the superheroes-themed dance. All of the non-bowling activities will take place at the Museum of Aviation amphitheater and Century of Flight hangar.
Dell Cook will sing again this year during the opening ceremonies and the torch run.
Since its beginnings in the 1960s as a day camp in the backyard of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics games have served more than 3.2 million athletes worldwide. The games are dedicated to inspiring those with intellectual disabilities.
Few events, athletic or otherwise, bring a community together like Special Olympics Georgia state events, said Special Olympics Director Georgia Milton Sheets, who coincidentally spent her high school years in Warner Robins. The bowling tournament promotes individual growth, develops volunteer spirit and opens up a wide range of potential opportunities, she said.
There is no doubt that participating in Special Olympics can be a game-changer for everyone involved. For the athletes, the games promote healthy, active living among a segment of individuals who statistics show are more likely to face obesity and other related health problems than the general population. The games also provide a safe arena for peer interaction which, in the case of the Masters Bowling Tournament, involves ages 18 to 35. The games build confidence and a positive self-image that carries into the classroom, the home, the job and the community.
For the volunteers, the games offer an opportunity to strengthen families, which fosters an appreciation of talents and promotes greater support among the athletes, siblings and parents. The community as a whole, through observation and participation, is united in understanding people with intellectual disabilities in an environment of equality, respect and acceptance.
Special Olympics Georgia provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympics-type sports for nearly 24,470 children and adults.
The games give participants continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in the sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with families, other athletes and the host community.
I just like seeing the faces of all the athletes is a comment repeated over and over by the volunteers. And volunteers are what make the games work successfully in getting the athletes positioned for play and then awarding medals to every player.
Those who wish to sing always find a song is the Swedish proverb often quoted in describing the determination of each athlete in the games.
If you would like to volunteer for the Special Olympics Master Bowling Tournament in Warner, visit the website at www.specialolympicsga.org or call the local games volunteer office at 478-929-7259.
Marsha Priest Buzzell is the executive director of the Warner Robins Convention & Visitors Bureau and may be contacted at 478-922-5100 or firstname.lastname@example.org