There are plenty of athletes around the state who excel in a variety of sports, but nowhere in the state can athletes be found who perform with the guts, intensity and determination that special Olympians display. The Ohio Special Olympics are slated for June 26 – 28 in Columbus and James “Spudd” Sasak, Freemason, of Grand River, is promoting the event by bicycling around the perimeter of the state.
The “Masonry in Motion” bike ride kicked off June 1 on the steps of the Cuyohoga County Courthouse, in Cleveland, and will end at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus, on June 26.
Sasak arrived at the courthouse in Batavia at noon Thursday, June 11. He was met by several Freemasons from around Clermont County. The Free and Accepted Masons of Ohio are sponsors of the Special Olympics and Sasak, a member of the Lakeshore Lodge 307, is bicycling the perimeter of the state, visiting county seats to promote the Special Olympics.
A delegation of Clermont County adult athletes is preparing for the event according to Joan Arthur, MRDD activity coordinator and Special Olympics coach.
"This is a wonderful event to attend," said Arthur. "Everyone who participates each year has a great time and looks forward to competing for a medal."
A number of athletes from Clermont County will be participating in the bowling competition. They include Gary Kasarcik, of Amelia; Chris Hart, of Batavia; Teresa Reilley, of Batavia Township; Rocky Arnett, of Bethel; Brian Dunkmann, of Blanchester; Ellen Thompson and Cathi Mooi, of Loveland; Bill Thompson, of Miami Township; Dwayne Castle, of Milford; Misty Kincaid and Desziray Woessner, of Owensville; Melissa Doyle, Jackie Foy, Chris Gerth, Denise Hendrickson, Marco Huber and Harvey Troxell, all of Union Township.
The Clermont County Special Olympics athletes are funded by proceeds from a golf outing which was held on June 11 at Royal Oaks Country Club. The proceeds help pay for the athletes' fees and uniforms.
This year's event in Columbus is expected to draw more than 4,000 athletes to participate in 11 sports including aquatics, track and field, bocce, bowling, cycling, gymnastics, power lifting, roller skating, soccer, softball throw, tennis and volleyball.
The opening ceremonies will begin 6:30 p.m. with a parade of athletes and the lighting of the "Flame of Hope" which burns throughout the games. Competition will take place 2:30 - 5 p.m. Friday, June 26 and begins 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Most of the competition will be held on the campus of OSU with the exception of bowling and roller-skating.
All events at the 2009 Special Olympics Ohio State Summer Games are free and open to the public.
To make a donation or find out more about the Special Olympics, visit the website for Ohio Special Olympics at www.sooh.org. Track Sasak's progress around the state on his website www.spudd.us.