Lynchburg, Va. -- University of Lynchburg opened its doors to more than two dozen athletes with special needs over the weekend as the Hornets' Student-Athlete Advisory Committee played host to its second-annual Special Olympics basketball clinic Saturday, Feb. 9.
The 27 Special Olympics athletes in attendance were invited to stick around and take part in the day's varsity athletic events. They participated in halftime promotions at Lynchburg's men's lacrosse and men's basketball games, and several scrimmaged in front of the women's basketball crowd at halftime of Lynchburg's victory over Eastern Mennonite.
In addition to the skills taught at the clinic, Lynchburg athletics raised $206 for Virginia's Special Olympics Area 24, which encompasses the City of Lynchburg and Amherst and Campbell counties.
"Taking a few hours out of our day to work with athletes who demonstrate the pure joy in sport reminds us of why we play in the first place," said Chad Fluharty, Lynchburg men's soccer player and SAAC community service chair. "For a few hours, it wasn't about being the best. Instead, it was about enjoying the game and those you get to play with."
During the clinic, Special Olympics basketball athletes divided into groups based on ability -- Skills, Half Court, and Full Court divisions -- and spent time at stations to work on passing, dribbling, shooting, and defense.
Members of several Lynchburg varsity teams along with students in the university's Doctor of Physical Therapy program helped staff the clinic.
The Full Court skills level athletes took part in the 10-minute scrimmage at halftime of the Lynchburg-Eastern Mennonite women's basketball game.
"We were really excited to play host to our second-annual Special Olympics SAAC basketball clinic," Lynchburg SAAC advisor and head women's basketball coach Abby Pyzik Smith said. "It was awesome to see our student-athletes interacting with the Special Olympics athletes and learning from one another."
With the 2018-19 year marking Special Olympics' 50th anniversary, Lynchburg took part in the NCAA Division III-wide 50 for 50th initiative, imploring each institution to involve at least 50 student-athletes with Special Olympics to celebrate the milestone. Ninety Lynchburg student-athletes participated in Saturday's clinic and festivities.
RELATED: Special Olympics Virginia website
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