LINCOLN - With four volleyball courts hosting action at the Ethel S. Abbott Sports Complex during the Special Olympics this week, fans and spectators were bound to get in on the action.
Individuals from the Beatrice State Developmental Center were no exception , as buses and vans shuttled residents around Lincoln to various Special Olympics events.
Inside the Abbott Complex during the volleyball competition, BSDC residents had a front row seat to the Nebraska and Missouri game.
After a Missouri point, as the ball ricocheted off several Team Nebraska players, it rolled out of bounds on a direct trajectory toward Charlie Norris.
Charlie, the outgoing type who had previous reached out to shake the hands of passing athletes, family members and friends alike, bent out of his wheelchair eager to pick up the wayward volleyball.
As a Team Nebraska player approached the stands to retrieve the ball, Charlie gave it a gentle toss followed by a solid spike.
The ball shot towards the Team Nebraska player, who caught it against his chest, a look of surprise washing over his face.
Norris was one of seven individuals who attended the volleyball tournament Tuesday. He was accompanied by Halsey Baburek, Bunny Dudgeon, Gretchen Stauffer, David Block, Debra Blaser and Sandra Saltzman, who watched with interest and admiration, the athletes who competed for the sake of competition.
Pat Sookran, one of the
supervisors accompanying the group, said being in the crowd at the Special Olympics was a “great socialization experience,” for the individuals.
“They are having a very fun time,” Sookran said. “It’s exciting and a good outing for them to see others with disabilities doing great things and competing.”
While no BSDC residents are competing in the 2010 Special Olympics in Lincoln, three did qualify for the games.
Two of the athletes, however, did not meet the requirements put forth by the national Special Olympics, while the third moved out of BSDC.
Recreation supervisor Luann Faris said despite not having any friends from BSDC competing, individuals have had a blast cheering on other athletes from across the country.
“We had some that especially enjoyed the flag football,” Faris said.
Faris hopes that seeing others with disabilities compete at such a high level will inspire individuals at BSDC to engage in more wellness activities.
“We’re hoping this might generate an interest in them participating in some Special Olympics events, not as much from a competitive standpoint as from a wellness standpoint,” Faris said. “Keeping the body fit, staying in shape.”
Maybe the Special Olympics will even inspire the center to try out some new events.
“We’re also hoping it will bring some new events to BSDC like tennis or golf that we’ve never had individuals in,” Faris said. “We’ve never offered those sports, so we wanted to get some individuals out and get them exposure to those sports.”