PORTLAND, Ore. – For the second consecutive year the Lewis & Clark Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) made a significant monetary donation to the Special Olympics of Multnomah County in honor of their continued partnership with the organization.
The Pioneers, who were one of the first NCAA Division III institutions to partner with the Special Olympics, hosted several events throughout the year with and for the Special Olympians in addition to the $3,397.70 donation.
"The partnership between Lewis & Clark College and Special Olympics Oregon - Multnomah County has provided many moving experiences for the student-athletes at the college and the athletes who participate with the Multnomah County local program," said Kelly Coates, Field Director of Special Olympics Oregon. "Everyone involved has been taught more about compassion, understanding and the bonding experience that happens through sport."
“By inviting Special Olympic Athletes and staff to our campus for games and barbeques we have not only given L&C athletes the opportunity to share their love for their sport with other athletes, but have also given a chance to step out of one's comfort zone and experience these SO athletes overcoming obstacles in order to participate in an activity they love,” said SAAC Co-Chair Margaret Dowling.
All 19 of the Pioneers varsity sports participated in the annual Northwest Conference Coin Drive on Feb. 17, where they hosted a tent with complimentary coffee and hot chocolate in the morning before grilling out for the campus community in the afternoon. All together on that day the student-athletes, who scoured campus in their team uniforms all day collecting money, raised $2,774.36 for the Special Olympics of Multnomah Country in a single day.
“My personal experience working with Special Olympic athletes has been life-changing and I am so grateful for the L&C community's generosity in the coin drive and other fundraisers, allowing us to make a substantial contribution to this well-deserving and much appreciated organization.”
Throughout the 2011-2012 year the student-athletes partnered with Special Olympics in many different ways. On May 1, 2011 several student-athlete volunteered their time at the softball try-outs leading up to the Special Olympic Summer Games.
As an extension of the NCAA Division III initiative to foster a relationship between Special Olympics and Division III athletics across the United States the Pioneers invited Special Olympians to various athletic events on campus. The collaboration began on Oct. 23 with 45 Special Olympic soccer and bowling athletes as well as their friends and family attending a BBQ at a women's soccer game.
The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee followed that event up with another BBQ on Oct. 29 at a volleyball match with 20 Special Olympic volleyball players and their friends attending.
The final BBQ was done in conjunction with this year's coin drive, with the Pioneers hosting the Special Olympic basketball players from Multnomah County during the Pioneers last regular season basketball games of the season. The Special Olympians played at halftime of the men's basketball game, while enjoying one on one time with the student-athletes during a special cookout. All of the Special Olympians were presented with co-branded Lewis & Clark and Special Olympic t-shirts.
“I believe in the importance of giving back, and what better way for athletes to give back than to form a relationship with special Olympians and share the joy and passion that athletics sparks,” said Dowling.
In addition, the Pioneer softball team and a handful of other Pioneer student-athletes volunteered at the Polar Plunge, held on February 9, 2012. Plunging that day was the Pioneers own Patrick Sinnot.
During the course of the year, an additional $623.34 was raised with the coin drive donation taking the Pioneers total donation to Special Olympics of Multnomah County to $3,397.70 during the 2011-2012 year. Combined with the donation from 2010-2011 of $3,085.63 the Pioneers have donated nearly $6,500 to this worthy cause.
"Through their dedicated efforts, the Lewis & Clark student-athletes have helped to support the local program in Multnomah County. The money will go to paying for practice facilities, new sports equipment, and lodging and transportation for competition," said Coates.
The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and the Pioneer athletics department look forward to continuing to build this relationship heading into the 2012-2013 year.