TIME TO TEE OFF
Special Olympics golf outing benefits Montgomery County organization
More than 1,200 athletes participating in 20 sports at 44 locations throughout Montgomery County — it stands to reason that deep pockets are needed to fuel such an organization.
Deep pockets are needed indeed — because these athletes, and their families, aren’t required to put out a dime in order to compete. They just have to show up, be committed, and recite the athlete’s oath written in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of Special Olympics, before competition: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
The county chapter, based out of Blue Bell and headed up by program manager Scott Otterbein, runs on its own — driven by the dedication of volunteers and funded entirely by the generosity of donors. Which is why the success of the 21st annual Golf Classic on Monday, Sept. 18, at North Hill Country Club (99 Station Ave, Glenside, PA 19038) is vital to the county program.
“It’s the biggest fundraiser of the year, and the major source of our income,” offered Ted Schwartz, co-chair, along with Garrett Rice, of the golf tournament.
According to Rice when the tournament first teed off more than 20 years ago, about 100 golfers participated. The event now features a full slate of 128 golfers, Rice said, and over the course of those years has grossed more than $1 million. But that number only fulfills about one-third of the organization’s annual budget.
Rice said it’s important for potential donors to know that the local programs are required to generate their own money — county programs do not receive any money or financial support from the state or national levels. So, when those telemarketers call at 5 p.m. asking for a generous donation to Special Olympics, that
money does not benefit the county program at all. For the county athletes to benefit, donations should go directly to the office at 980 Harvest Drive, Suite 203, Blue Bell, PA 19422.
“We’re (Montgomery County) probably bigger than any other county in the state, as far as athletes and programs are concerned,” Rice said. “And we’re probably the most active. We just sent 63 athletes to Sports Camp (at Antiochian Village Camp in Bolivar, PA) and transportation alone (to the camp and then the return trip home) cost $9,000. And that’s at no cost to the athletes and families.”
And that is why, Rice said, fund raisers like the golf outing are so important — costs for uniforms, medical insurance, venue rentals, transportation, medals, refreshments for all athletes
during county-sponsored tournaments and meets, are financed at the county level.
This year’s golf outing, according to Schwartz, will take a different approach to recognizing the top golfers.
“Instead of trophies,” Schwartz said, “the winners will receive medals — gold, silver and bronze — just like our athletes get when they compete. And our athletes will be the ones presenting the medals to the golfers.”
Check-in time for the outing is 10 a.m. to noon, with lunch provided at noon. A shotgun start will kick off the best ball scramble format. A cocktail hour will help golfers unwind from 5 to 6:30, and dinner will follow. There will also be a silent auction featuring unique and highly collectable items.
As important as the financial help is, and as important as the coaches and athletes are to the success of the county programs, Rice said there is one component that is the absolute
heartbeat of Special Olympics Montgomery County.
“There’s a great deal of pride in this organization,” Rice said.”There are wonderful people in the organization — the athletes, the coaches...
“The athletes are a given. And we could, theocratically, run the programs without money. We could have practices in someone’s backyard or in playgrounds. But what we could not do without — what keeps this organization going — are the volunteers. These are wonderful people.”
The county boasts about 400 volunteers — and it should be noted that there are no salaried positions in SOMC.
For more information about SOMC, or to donate time or money, visit https://w w w.specialolympicsmontco.org/
Members of the cross country and soccer teams join with coaches, volunteers and organizers of the golf outing to accept the check from Wells Fargo by representatives Jim and Katie Malcolm (red shirts).
Wells Fargo employees Jim and Katie Macolm (red shirts) present a check to, from left, Special Olympics Montgomery County program director Scott Otterbein and golf outing co-chairs Ted Schwartz and Garrett Rice. The check is a grant for the golf outing dinner sponsorship.