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Adults cut from ConVal Special Olympics team

Ethn Kennedy, Josh Brescia, Brandon Towne and Gail Jarest, adult members of the ConVal Special Olympics team. The team recently lost funding and seeks volunteers to keep the adult members on the team.

Ethn Kennedy, Josh Brescia, Brandon Towne and Gail Jarest, adult members of the ConVal Special Olympics team. The team recently lost funding and seeks volunteers to keep the adult members on the team.

Last Thursday, Josh Brescia, Brandon Towne, Gail Jarest, and Ethan Kennedy gave up their weekly bowling night to attend a meeting in ConVal’s Lucy Hurlin auditorium. They sat with dozens of other adult Special Olympians and their families, trying to understand why they could no longer be part of the ConVal team after so many years. For many, Special Olympics is the highlight of their year.

For two decades, dedicated teachers at ConVal High School have volunteered their time to help raise money, coach athletes, and solicit volunteers to keep graduates from ConVal in the Special Olympics program since they could not use school funds. But now, according to ConVal Cougars Special Olympics coach Mary Maughan, there are just too many graduates, too few coaches and too little money. ConVal now has 24 adult SO athletes registered. Each adult’s participation costs up to $600 per year, depending on how many events they attend.

Athletes and families are scrambling to try to organize an entire Special Olympics program before the first meet of the season on Oct. 27. Laura Lawlor and Ruelle Jarest were quick to step up to the plate to administer the program, and Miranda Blanchette is leading brainstorming to raise funds, but starting a whole new organization on short notice will be challenging.

“Fortunately,” said Laura Lawlor, local program co-director, “we have money to start the year. But we really need coaches to work with the team and volunteers to staff events.”

In the past, ConVal teachers coached and students volunteered to help staff events. Depending on the event, coaches spend about 10 to 30 hours with the team. Coached events include: snow-shoeing, cross-country skiing, alpine skiing, basketball, track and field. Each event also needs one volunteer for every four athletes. Parents plan to staff the first event themselves, but need coaches and volunteers starting with winter games January through March. Interested persons should contact coach and volunteer coordinator Louise Guillemette at weezie1626@yahoo.com.

— Jeanne Dietsch

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