Posted: Wednesday, December 4th 2013 at 1:45pm
Special Olympics Georgia returning to Hall County
By Marc Eggers Staff
GAINESVILLE – The Special Olympics Georgia state competition is returning to Hall County in October…the next three Octobers, to be more specific. The official announcement regarding the 2014-2016 commitment was made Wednesday morning at North Hall Park.
Special Olympics Georgia CEO Georgia Milton-Sheats said the choice to return was an easy decision to make. "We just got very positive feedback from the athletes and the coaches and that’s who we asked because they’re the ones we’re doing this for."
SOGA held their competition in Hall County a decade ago. That experience left a good impression on organizers. Milton-Sheats said the community was welcoming and helpful and the amenities were top notch. "It’s really kind of a ‘no-brainer’," she added. "It’s easy to find, it’s right off the Interstate. There are so many great pluses to having it back in Hall County."
And the economic impact will make Hall County a gold-medal winner, as well.
Charles White, Senior Sports and Program Manager for SOGA, said over 2,000 athletes are expected for the competition October 12-14 from 60 delegations throughout the state. Coaches, spectators and family members will grow that number of visitors significantly.
Stacy Dickson, President of the Lake Lanier Convention and Visitors Bureau, estimates that those involved in the games will spend nearly half-a-million dollars during their visit. "But the great thing that makes the Special Olympics special is something that money can’t buy: the heartfelt spirit of the athletes, the heartwarming experiences that volunteers get, overcoming obstacles and exceeding expectations."
"We look forward to being at the finish line with lots of smiles and hugs and cheers," Dickson said.
Much of the competition is planned to take place at North Hall Park, part of Hall County Commissioner Scott Gibb’s Third District. But an additional factor makes the upcoming competition even more special to Gibbs.
Gibbs 12-year-old son, David, is a special-needs child. "We hope to enter him in the Olympics. I think it’s a great event, a great organization, and it will add a lot to our community."
Chicopee Woods Agriculture Center will be the site of the remainder of the competition with the 2014 State Horse Show taking place simultaneous to the North Hall Park events.
"We’re looking for people to help plan this and organize this for next October," Milton-Sheats said.
White reiterated that need. "We have 21-full time staff onboard at Special Olympics Georgia and almost 26,000 athletes statewide. The key factor in the middle of that…are our volunteers. Our volunteer base is our greatest asset."
White welcomes those who might be interested in volunteering their time and resources as SOGA readies for the October games. Contact White via email at: email@example.com or call his Event Manager, Stephen Sparks, at (229) 292-6955.
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