Amherst Area Spe­cial Olympics ben­e­fits from com­mu­nity sup­port

Border­town Work­ing Truck Show, Ac­cess La­bels present nearly $3,000 to or­ga­ni­za­tion

The Amherst News - - SPORTS - BY DAR­RELL COLE dar­rell.cole@amher­st­news.ca Twit­ter: @ADN­dar­rell

Running any sports or­ga­ni­za­tion can be chal­leng­ing fi­nan­cially.

The last year or two have been tough ones fi­nan­cially for the Amherst Area Spe­cial Olympics pro­gram – so tough it could not send a team to the pro­vin­cial floor hockey cham­pi­onships like it has ev­ery spring for years.

The pro­gram, that kicked off a new season on Oct. 14 at E.B. Chan­dler Ju­nior High School in Amherst, got a huge boost in the form of a $2,055 do­na­tion from Bill Dowe on be­half of the sec­ond Border­town Work­ing Truck Show in Septem­ber and $942.50 in 50/50 pro­ceeds from the staff of Ac­cess La­bels in East Amherst.

“It’s a great way to start the season,” Lisa Hines of Amherst Area Spe­cial Olympics said. “Th­ese dona­tions are so im­por­tant to us. Be­cause we’re so iso­lated geo­graph­i­cally our ath­letes don’t get the op­por­tu­nity to com­pete in week­end com­pe­ti­tions or re­gional tour­na­ments. We have the two ma­jor com­pe­ti­tions ev­ery year and that’s our goal to work to­ward them and ev­ery year ev­ery­one trains for th­ese com­pe­ti­tions and we hope we can fundraise the money so they can at­tend.”

Back in the spring, the in­abil­ity to raise suf­fi­cient funds pre­vented the team from go­ing to the pro­vin­cial floor hockey com­pe­ti­tion. While the ath­letes un­der­stood, Hines said they were very dis­ap­pointed be­cause they look for­ward to the friendly com­pe­ti­tion and reac­quaint­ing them­selves with Spe­cial Olympians from other areas of Nova Sco­tia.

Amherst sends ath­letes to the pro­vin­cial sum­mer com­pe­ti­tion while the win­ter com­pe­ti­tion is held ev­ery two years. In be­tween, there’s a pro­vin­cial floor hockey tour­na­ment in Truro.

“We’ve typ­i­cally gone to that ev­ery year,” he said. “We weren’t able to go this year. We had to de­cline be­cause of fund­ing. We felt it would be more im­por­tant to take a team of 30 or more ath­letes to the Sum­mer Games in­stead of a smaller group of 14 to the floor hockey tour­na­ment. It was a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to make.”

Hines said it costs be­tween $10,000 and $12,000 to op­er­ate the Amherst Area Spe­cial Olympics pro­gram each year. Reg­is­tra­tion for com­pe­ti­tion is usu­ally $125 per ath­lete. The pro­gram sub­si­dizes the reg­is­tra­tion while trans­porta­tion costs is usu­ally the high­est bud­get item.

For many years, there was a dance on New Year’s Eve that raised money for the pro­gram. Like many fundrais­ers, it ran its course and or­ga­niz­ers moved on when it ap­peared it would no longer be suc­cess­ful.

Other fundrais­ers have been held and sev­eral com­mu­nity groups have stepped up to help.

“I think the word is out that we were short on money and we’ve had some help,” she said. “The mother of one of our ath­letes works at Ac­cess La­bels and her boss, Paul Carr, wanted to do some­thing to help while the Co-op had a draw to help us as well. There was even some­one who had a lemon­ade stand for us in Pug­wash this sum­mer. Ev­ery lit­tle bit helps.”

The Amherst Area Spe­cial Olympics has been op­er­at­ing for about 40 years while the APSEA school for the deaf also had a pro­gram when it was in op­er­a­tion.

CON­TRIB­UTED

Bill Dowe, left, and Mike Ouel­let, right, of the Border­town Work­ing Truck Show, held last month in Amherst, and Leah McLean of Bill Dowe Ex­ca­vat­ing, present a cheque for $2,055 to Martha Saun­ders of Amherst Area Spe­cial Olympics.

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