Special Olympics Delaware hosted a Nov. 9 gathering of athletes, friends and family members who help the nonprofit organization further its mission of providing training and athletic competitions for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
Champions Together was held at The Clubhouse at Baywood Greens, and the complimentary lunch gave friends and supporters a chance to interact and connect. SODE says it is a leader in the field of intellectual disability and recently declared its mission to be a critical, effective catalyst for social change – beyond the sports fields.
“Special Olympics Delaware hosts these luncheons with the idea of letting people know that the programs we run throughout the state are completely free. We serve all ages and all ability levels,” said David Halley, SODE president and CEO.
A part of the Delaware landscape for more than 50 years, SODE hopes to help give people with intellectual abilities comfortable pathways into a larger society where they may be accepted and become contributing members. SODE believes that people with intellectual disabilities have faced inactivity, intolerance and injustice for far too long. SODE offers fitness and training programs to help athletes and their support groups lead healthier lifestyles.
Halley pointed out that people with intellectual disabilities are twice as likely to be or become obese, and twice as likely to die before the age of 50 as a result of those challenges. Halley received a round of applause when he mentioned the outreach is growing, as SODE is now in every school district in Delaware. While donations are vital, SODE is also looking for coaches and volunteers to help.
“The authentic experience is one of the things Special Olympics hangs its hat on and is known for. We offer top-level facilities and competitions for all ability levels, whether you’re wheelchair based or not able to walk, to top DIAA athletes competing in high school.” Halley said, adding that SODE is blessed to have that access.
Currently, SODE is serving more than 4,000 athletes in Delaware, and Halley said as they expand, they are looking to offer more sports, with pickleball and cornhole coming, and some new events expected in 2024.
Hosting tables at the event were Cindy Beaver, Gail Jackson, Eric Reinhold, Wendy Walker, Tim Waters, Maureen White, Sherri White, Amy Zook, SODE staff members, and the school districts of Cape Henlopen, Indian River, Lake Forest, Milford and Seaford.
SODE’s next fundraising event will be the Reindeer Run & Romp 5K, held in conjunction with Newark’s Winterfest. The next event in the Cape Region will be the Lewes Polar Bear Plunge set for Sunday, Feb. 4, at Rehoboth Beach with virtual participation available. It is SODE’s most significant fundraiser. More information about volunteering, coaching, or how to donate to SODE can be found at sode.org.