Special Olympics Basketball Skills event puts some bounce in the day
Special athletes from Fort Dodge and several other area school districts gathered Thursday at Butler Elementary School to show off their basketball shooting, dribbling and passing game skills during the Special Olympics Regional Basketball Skills competition.
Nolan Slininger, 19, a senior at Fort Dodge Senior High, enjoys attending the competition.
“It was wonderful.” he said. “I see all my friends here.”
His mom, Carmon Slininger, was watching her son from the stands.
“I’m excited that he’s changed so much over the years.” she said. “I love to see the excitement on his face. He has a lot of fun here.”
The athletes compete in several different events: a 10 meter dribble, a passing test where they try to hit inside a square on the wall and of course, shooting baskets from various on-court positions.
Justin Wurn, 17, a sophomore at Humboldt High School, said he’d practiced before the competition.
“I’m good for the dribbling, but I only got two baskets.” he said.
He, too, enjoys seeing his friends. It’s not about winning or losing for the athletes, it’s about putting the effort into trying.
Keith Newburn, 16, a sophomore at Fort Dodge Senior High, was busy with many things before the meet.
He didn’t get a lot of practice in, though.
“I probably should have, but it didn’t happen.” he said.
He said his best event is the 10 meter dribble. The basket shooting, less so.
“I missed a few.” he said.
He, too, enjoys visiting with friends and there’s another bonus for him.
“School’s out.” he said.
The event requires the efforts of many volunteers to make it happen.
Shane Halligan, 17, a senior at Fort Dodge Senior High, was among the students who volunteered their time for the day.
“It’s just really nice to give back to the kids and help the community.” he said.
One thing he really enjoys are all the smiles.
“It’s fun to see how happy the kids are.” he said. “I want them to know they’re doing a good job.”
This year’s event was dedicated to Joi Rasmussen who died on Jan. 6. A long time teacher in the district, she worked with the Special Olympics program and special education for many years.
She was also one of the main organizers of the Olympic events.
Rasmussen was remembered and honored with a speech and her photograph was on display with a bouquet of flowers.
The top finishers from Thursday’s event will go on to state competition later in the year.