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Despite cancellation, Special Olympics program hosts own event

Despite the cancellation of the Summer Special Olympics in Oregon, Eugene/Springfield's program put on an event for their athletes anyway.

Posted: Jul. 14, 2018 11:48 PM

Eugene, Ore. -- The Special Olympics means a lot to a lot of people. And Saturday, despite the many obstacles in front of them, members of the Eugene/Springfield program made it happen. One way or another. It's over 90 degrees at River Ridge Golf Course. But it doesn't seem to bother this group of players. And yet this day in the sun for what would've been a local special olympics almost wasn't. 

"As soon as we heard about the news," recalls Team Springfield/Eugene golf coach Pat Church. "We were having practice that day. So I spoke to the athletes about it and you could see the looks on the faces of not just the athletes but the coaches and the parents. Everyone was pretty shaken."

In what can be described as budget shortfalls, the Special Olympics in Corvallis was cancelled. But local Eugene/Springfield golf coach Pat Church was not gonna let that lie.

"Pat had it that we were gonna do this for team Springfield/Eugene and it was a great day," says Anthony Doheny, a volunteer and unified partner for the past six years.

"After that day I spoke to the coaches and said look if I can make the arrangements with River Ridge do we wanna do something? And they said, 'absolutely'", Coach Pat remembers. 

Relying on donations and volunteers team Eugene/Springfield held their own event at River Ridge.

"Just a whole community effort to pull something like this coming together to pull something else though", says Doheny.

"Disappointed that we didn't get to go to Corvallis?", asks Church to one of her athletes, John. "Yeah", he responds. "But this was a good substitute?", she follows up. "Yeah", John answers quickly. "Yeah it is." 

But everyone involvde traces it back to Coach Pat, who is entering her 15th year. How the athletes talk about her is a testament.

"Being around Pat cause Coach Pat is the best thing in the whole world", says Chelsea, a teenage athlete. 

"She's nice", echoes another athlete, Tony Benoit. 

John sums it up succintly. "I like everyone around, like Pat."

"She recruited me", Doheny fondly recalls. "A lot of the volunteers here she just put the whole thing together. She just loves doing this." 

"I think it's everything they expected...everything we expected", says Church. "And this the payoff for them as you can see how quiet they got when the pizza got here." 

And afterwards of course, there's pizza, cupcakes, and Coach Pat. "Along with her volunteers, keeping it all going."

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