TIME TO TEE OFF

Spe­cial Olympics golf out­ing ben­e­fits Mont­gomery County or­ga­ni­za­tion

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ch­eryl Ke­hoe Rodgers crodgers@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @TimesHer­aldPA on Twit­ter

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/

SUB­MIT­TED PHO­TOS

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.

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