Tammy Zimmerman, Coach for the VSU Special Olympics team, along with a group of parents and athletes made a visit to the Kiwanis Club. The local Kiwanis Club helps to support the group.
Assistant Coach, Mike Kramer shared about his experiences with his son Zach who joined the VSU Special Olympics team at the age of 8 years old. At first, his dad said he wasn't sure how it would go. But they started with basketball, and then Zach took on track, followed by bowling. He said that Zach wanted to do everything.
Then the swim coach called. He told Mike that Zach wanted to join the swim team. The coach asked, "Can Zach swim?" Mike answered, "No." But that didn't stop Zach. The coach taught Zach to swim. The second practice that Mike attended he walked in just in time to see Zach jump into the water without a life jacket. Zach was unfazed and enthusiastic to learn. "But that describes Zach when it comes to sports, he want to try them all," his dad said.
Kramer went on to share that it's not about an athlete getting a medal or placing 1st, 2nd,3rd or last, it's about having fun together and being able to laugh together.
The group has become more than just a group of athletes. Both Zimmerman and Kramer said that they've become a family. If someone needs help, they try to meet the needs of those in the group.
The community has helped to make this possible for the athletes and families. The uniforms alone cost about $150 per athlete. Other equipment and expenses that the group have include approximately $800 a year for bowling, they buy adaptive equipment like basketballs with bells in them and ropes for track.
The fundraisers, raffle, and benefit ride make it possible for the athletes to attend the competition in Ames with their needed cheerleaders their families.
At this time there are about 30 active athletes involved in bowling, basketball, track and field. Their ages are between 8 and 31. The group includes athletes from the several counties including Benton, Linn, Buchanan, Blackhawk, and one from Oswald, Iowa.
The state meet is in Ames while the Nationals is held in Orlando. This year, Iowa brought home 40 medals!
When the group began, there were no funds when it started. As the coach, Zimmerman bought shorts out of her own pocket so that the participants had uniforms. Events like the upcoming benefit ride have helped to cover the uniforms each year. There is now enough money through the fundraising efforts to purchase equipment and anything else that the team needs.
Each stop along the upcoming ride is family-friendly so that the athletes can also ride along and enjoy the ride. The ride will be held on August 20. Registration will begin at 10:00 a.m. with kickstand up at 11:00 a.m. wrapping up at 5:30 p.m. at the Vinton Country Club. (ALL vehicles are welcome to join in the fun!)
If you would like to join the ride for a good cause, the information is below!