Published April 17, 2007
Volume 15, Number 4

Amador Valley High and Special Olympics Team Up for Annual Sporting Events

For the fourth year in a row, Pleasanton’s Amador Valley High School will host the Special Olympics Regional Competitions in track and field and volleyball on Saturday, May 5, at the high school.  Since 2004, Amador’s Athletic Boosters organization has coordinated this event, as well as the spring basketball tournament, by getting volunteers, booking facilities with the school district and the city, and coordinating snack bar sales whose proceeds help to defray event expenses.  Thanks to the Boosters’ assistance, each year more and more developmentally disadvantaged athletes from the Tri-Valley area have been able to participate.

“The partnership has been a blessing for the Special Olympics community and its athletes,” says Pleasanton Special Olympics Head Coach Tom Morelli.  “It is good that the events have continued to be held here in Pleasanton, especially for our RADD athletes so they can compete in their hometown.” RADD stands for Recreational Activities for the Developmentally Disadvantaged, a program that has been a part of Pleasanton’s Parks and Community Services Department for over 30 years.

Morelli explained that before Amador got involved, the athletes had to travel out of the area to compete, making participation for some athletes and their families difficult financially.  “We also had to rent facilities that added to our expenses.  With Amador’s help, we’ve been able to use their gym, track and other facilities which has saved us money.”

What has made the Special Olympics events so successful are the volunteers. Over the years, and as the athletic competitions have gained notoriety in the community, the numbers of volunteers have grown to several hundred.

“We’ve already got all the volunteers we need for May 5th and will probably have to turn away about 500 more,” says Amador’s Special Olympics Volunteer Coordinator Kent Young.  “The good news is that we reached out to the community and they have stepped-up big time.”

Booster’s Treasurer Ken Mano, the original organizer of this partnership, has helped it grow to what it is today.  “We started the partnership with Special Olympics as a way for students to do community service, but we’ve been able to do much more, like running the events and providing training for athletes, scorekeepers, and officials.  The best part is seeing the involvement of our students and community members.”

Young agrees. “It’s great when 17 year-old students says thanks for getting them involved and hearing them say the experience changed their life.  Seeing the athletes’ excitement, their support for one another, and the families’ appreciation is what makes volunteering a life-changing experience and so popular.” 

Mano expects the partnership to continue for years. “We have the support of the Boosters, the people of Pleasanton, the Amador students and school district administration.” 

The May 5th track and field event and volleyball tournament runs from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Though there are enough volunteers, they can always use more spectators. 

For more information about Special Olympics, visit the Northern California Chapter’s website at www.sonc.org.  To find out how you can help with Tri-Valley Special Olympics or RADD, email Tom Morelli at coachtomr3@yahoo.com

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