Special Olympics Hits the Links

By: Damon Dillman
By: Damon Dillman

Mark Twain once said, "Golf is a good walk spoiled." But some special Valley residents enjoyed their time on the course Monday morning.

Close to 40 Special Olympic athletes hit the fairways and practice green at Gypsy Hill Park in Staunton on Monday. They got lessons on chipping and putting, as part of the Staunton Order of Eagles' annual golf clinic.

The Eagles have been offering the golf lessons for almost 15 years, and the area's Special Olympics director, Patti Strickler, says it's a day everyone looks forward to.

"Everybody likes coming out and playing golf," she said. "And you don't have to know. That's what's really fun about it. You can just come out and try it, even never having played golf before in your life."

The golf clinic is one of several events the Eagles hold for Special Olympics throughout the year.

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Special Olympics Facts

  • The Special Olympics is an international program of year-round sports training and athletic competition for more than one million children and adults with mental retardation.

  • Special Olympics began in 1968 when Eurnice Kennedy Shriver organized the First International Special Olympics Games at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois.

  • Since 1968, millions of children and adults with mental retardation have participated in Special Olympics.

  • Special Olympics Chapters are established in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. About 25,000 communities in the United States have Special Olympics programs.

  • To be eligible to participate Special Olympics, you must be at least eight years old and identified by an agency or professional as having one of the following conditions: mental retardation, cognitive delays as measured by formal assessment, or significant learning or vocational problems due to cognitive delay that require or have required specially-designed instruction.

  • With program offices around the world, Special Olympics conducts more than 16,000 competitions at the world, regional, state/national and local level for over 1 million athletes.

Source: www.specialolympics.org contributed to this report

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