Special Olympics Disc Golf!
On March 1-3, Special Olympics South Carolina held their 2013 Mid-Winter games in Charleston, South Carolina. Drawing from 16 “Areas” (generally groups of counties) throughout the state, the games were attended by 920 Special Olympics Athletes, 200 Unified Partners, and 500 Special Olympics Volunteers. The games started on Friday evening with a dinner and appreciation reception followed by the Opening Ceremonies, held at McAllister Field House on the campus of The Citadel. As each Area’s team of athletes entered the arena, and the anticipation of the weekend’s activities grew and grew, the cheering became absolutely deafening.
Sports to be contested all day Saturday that were held on the campus of The Citadel included Badminton, Basketball Skills, Basketball Team Play, Power Lifting, and a Young Athletes Program. Bowling competition took place at three local Charleston bowling centers - AMF Lanes, Ashley Lanes, and Royal Lanes. Beautiful Hampton Park just outside The Citadel’s gate also hosted another Special Olympics sport - DISC GOLF!
Disc Golf is a great sport for Special Olympics for the same reasons it is a great lifetime sport for everybody. It is low impact on the athlete and only as competitive as the athlete wishes it to be. Since the sport is so simple, it is also very easy for volunteers to help out at an event like the Special Olympics as not a lot of specialized gear or knowledge is necessary.
The Disc Golf competition took place on a 9-hole Par 27 temporary course setup by volunteers and staff/equipment provided for the event by Innova Disc Golf. The course was nestled along the pond and beautiful old-growth trees and foliage that make Hampton Park so beautiful and serene. However, serenity was not the watchword as 32 Special Olympics Athletes plus 21 Unified Partners and dozens of volunteers, despite cool temperatures and some wind, had the time of their lives whooping it up while enjoying the flight of discs within the natural beauty of the park.
A total of 10 Special Olympics athletes from Area’s 10, 11, & 16 participated in Singles action, while 21 Athletes and their 21 Partners from Area’s 4, 5, 7, and 10 participated in Unified action playing Alternate Shot Doubles.
Scott Wentzky and Adrian Southern were the coordinators for the Disc Golf competition, and when asked what he liked best about the event, Scott Wentzky said, “Just being so happy seeing so many of our athletes playing Disc Golf and just getting to watch them compete. We run a pretty relaxed competition and it is fun to be able to joke around and just have a good time with all our amazing athletes from across the state playing Disc Golf.”
After all the competitions wrapped up, everyone returned to the McAllister Field House Saturday evening for the Victory Celebration/Closing Ceremonies. As always, the law enforcement community which heavily supports the Special Olympics Torch Run fundraiser each year also came out in force to award medals to the competitors. And in the end, the color of the medal received by the athlete didn’t make any difference at all. It was impossible to distinguish the smile of a bronze medal winner from that of a gold medal winner as each athlete simply had a fantastic day while participating in athletic competition with one another.
See the full results from the Special Olympics South Carolina 2013 Mid-Winter Games Disc Golf competition.
Special Olympics has active programs in over 170 countries and a growing body of more than 3.4 million athletes with intellectual disabilities. Visit the Special Olympics Program Locator to see if your area offers Disc Golf as part of its program. If not, consider helping to make it part of the program - you'll be glad you did! You may also contact the PDGA Tour Manager who can put you in touch with Scott Wentzky who would be happy to share how the Special Olympics Disc Golf Program was started and works in South Carolina.
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