The University of Mary Washington athletic department welcomed their friends from Special Olympics Virginia on Saturday, January 20 for its home basketball doubleheader against York College (Pa.).
The Special Olympians played mini games at the halftimes of both the women's and men's games, and Special Olympian Lenny Codella performed beautiful renditions of the National Anthem prior to each contest.
The Special Olympians cheered both Eagle teams to victory, as the women moved into a third place tie in the league standings and the men knocked off previously undefeated and fourth ranked York.
The Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) initiated the partnership at the 2011 NCAA Convention and officially launched the partnership on August 1, 2011. The purpose of the partnership is to enhance the lives of Division III student-athletes and Special Olympics athletes through a mutual learning experience; provide a platform for recognition of Special Olympics athletes and Division III student-athletes within their communities; and raise awareness of Special Olympics, its programs and services.
Through this partnership, Division III student-athletes across the country are encouraged to participate in existing Special Olympics events, create their own events, or otherwise serve to support Special Olympics organization. The activities pursued by student-athletes will vary in each state and region, tailored to best utilize the student-athletes' time and local resources. Service activities with Special Olympic athletes range from unified events to sports clinics to bowling as well as pizza parties or fundraising efforts.
This partnership provides the opportunity for student-athletes to engage with Special Olympics and collaborate with existing student-led programs on campus. It also serves as another opportunity to demonstrate the citizenship and comprehensive learning attributes of Division III student-athletes. Student-athletes giving back to their local (and often national and international) communities not only adds to the comprehensive learning component of Division III, but also provides a venue for passion and service.