On Saturday, April 11, Iowa Wesleyan's Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) hosted the annual Southeast Iowa Special Olympics Spring Games at Maple Leaf Athletic Complex in Mount Pleasant. The last time this event was hosted in Mount Pleasant was 1980. The event has most recently been held at William Penn in Oskaloosa, Iowa.
Spring Games is a track and field event held annually for athletes to compete and qualify to go on to the state competition held at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa on May 21-23. Southeast Iowa Spring Games hosted over 200 Special Olympic athletes and over 130 volunteers including over 50 student-athletes from Iowa Wesleyan. The day kicked off at 10:00 AM with opening ceremonies and the parade of athletes around the track. There were six different field events and twelve different track events including running, walking, and wheelchair events. Special Olympic athletes are able to compete starting at age 8, and there is no cutoff for age. Our oldest athlete at this event was 75 years old. There was also an Olympic Village with fun games for the athletes to participate in fun games between their competitions. The day was complete with a wonderful lunch provided by Hy-Vee and a dance put on by Portable Playlist DJ run by Jim and Erin Folker, both Iowa Wesleyan graduates.
Iowa Wesleyan is a NCAA Division III member. DIII SAAC has a national partnership with Special Olympics. The IW SAAC group was able to formulate a relationship with the Southeast Iowa Special Olympics chapter after the group advisor, BJ Wagy '11, contacted Special Olympics in June. "It was definitely meant to be for both parties," Wagy explains. "They needed a new place to host the event and we wanted an opportunity to help out those in our community."
The Director of Regional Field Services from Special Olympics Iowa is Adrienne Johnson, who had a large role in planning this specific event. The area directors for the Southeast Iowa chapter are Brad and Julie Benge of Fort Madison, Iowa. Brad is a 1981 Iowa Wesleyan alum. They have both donated their time as area directors for over 20 years. Following Spring Games, Brad said, "Thank you and Iowa Wesleyan College. It gives me an extra sense of pride having the games being hosted by my alma mater. The planning committee and young people along with the community were fantastic."
The hosting of Spring Games could not have been possible without our wonderful sponsors: Iowa Wesleyan, Mount Pleasant Hy-Vee, Country Financial, KILJ, Portable Playlist DJ, Batey Lumber Ltd., Brown's Shoe Fit, The Pressbox Grille and Bar, Mount Pleasant US Bank, Z's Quick Break, Mount Pleasant Walmart, Nike, and DeLeon Photography. We are also very grateful to the planning committee and our volunteers from Iowa Wesleyan and the entire Mount Pleasant and Southeast Iowa community.
For information on how to get involved with Spring Games for next year, please contact BJ Wagy at firstname.lastname@example.org or (319) 385-6305 or Nicole Briell at email@example.com or (319) 385-6383. Southeast Iowa Special Olympics http://www.soiowa.org/. Iowa Wesleyan http://www.iwc.edu.