Golfers swing for Special Olympics
BLACKSBURG — Several New River Valley police officers hit the links at Blacksburg Country Club on Monday to support Special Olympics Virginia in the ninth-annual Special Olympics Benefit Golf Tournament.
In all, 10 police officers from the Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Pulaski County and Radford City police departments participated in the fundraising event.
According to Christiansburg police Officer Moe McClanahan, 21 teams of four golfers each competed in this year’s tournament, which averages about $2,500 in proceeds each year. This year, McClanahan said the tournament hopes to raise $3,500 for Special Olympics Virginia.
For Special Olympics Virginia, the entire New River Valley is considered “Area 9,” which includes Floyd, Giles and Montgomery counties, Radford, Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Pearisburg and Dublin and serves about 500 athletes.
Area 9 Coordinator BJ Norris said some of the tournament’s proceeds help Special Olympics Virginia fund their statewide tournaments, while other funding will help local areas pay for their athlete registration. Special Olympics Virginia ensures there is no cost to the athlete.
The registration ranges from $60 to $90 per athlete, depending on the sport, and usually includes meals and lodging, Norris added.
For Christiansburg Police Chief Mark Sisson, the tournament is a chance to bring the community together to support a cause he believes is the single greatest cause in society today.
“This is a great opportunity for fellow officers, businessmen and attorneys to come together and raise money for a great cause,” Sisson said. “Our main goal here is to raise money for these athletes to participate each year.”
Sisson also serves as the Region 10 director for the Virginia Law Enforcement Torch Run and said he’s passionate about bringing awareness to the athletes themselves.
“I get fired up when I see these athletes out and about,” Sisson said.
On Monday, one of those athletes and Sisson’s friend, Clay Caldwell, attended the tournament to cheer on his father, Mark Caldwell.
Caldwell has played in the tournament in years past and believes events such as the golf tournament are vital to the survival of the Special Olympics.
“My son participates in four Special Olympics events, and without the support and money, these athletes wouldn’t be able to make it to Richmond for the summer games,” Caldwell said. “This fundraiser is for next year’s summer games, so it’s great to see they’re working for the future.”
Russell Smith of Floyd, another tournament participant, was happy to support the cause, but admitted he was also excited to play alongside the men and women who serve as police officers in the area.
“When I saw how many officers supported the cause, it hit close to home for me,” Smith said. “My granddad was a Montgomery County deputy sheriff, and it’s neat to play with other officers because it reminds me of him.”
Though golfers had different reasons for playing in Monday’s tournament, raising money for the Special Olympics athletes was the central focus.
“It is our responsibility to help manage and motivate other Special Olympic agencies to fundraise,” Sisson said. “This is a great way to fundraise, but its purpose is to bring the Special Olympics athletes into focus.”
Sisson said the region has raised about $65,000, on average, over the past four years. This year, the region has already raised between $30,000 and $35,000 and is ahead of schedule, Sisson added.
The Roanoke Times | 381-8627
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