SOOC (NC) End-of-the-Year Fundraiser


SOOC (NC) End-of-the-Year Fundraiser

SOOC (NC) End-of-the-Year Fundraiser


Hi! My name is Debbie Everly. I currently am assistant to Colleen Lanigan—program coordinator for Special Olympics Orange County. I was also a volunteer assistant coach for soccer and basketball in the program for 5 years. I actually met Colleen at college over 26 years ago! And knowing her, it is no surprise to me that this program is such a success. With Colleen’s dedication and nurturing, this program has grown to serve, on a yearly basis, over 300 community athletes in 11 different sports. This is community-based programming at its best!


This program can support so many athletes, in part, due to the large number of family, university and community members who volunteer their time, energy and enthusiasm. Volunteering is extremely flexible. One can volunteer to help with one sport or multiple sports and there is always something going on! Many who donate their time do so as a family. That is how I started---volunteering with my daughters. I was able to give back to the community, meet amazing people, spend time with my daughters and show my girls the importance of community—and this community, in particular.

We are so grateful for all of our amazing volunteers--past and present! There are volunteers that come and go. There is also a core of dedicated volunteers—many who have been a part of this program for 10, 15, even 20 years. And, many volunteers stick with the program even when they move out of Orange County. What we hear time and again from our volunteers is how they get so much more out of participating than they put in. To me, that so says much about this program and our wonderful athletes!

What you may not know is that this program is run solely on donations! There is no cost to the athletes who participate in the program. Absolutely none! I think that’s pretty unique. In the past, Special Olympics has been supported by the participating athlete families, university and community members, and by local and national businesses and organizations. These donations help pay for uniforms, equipment, transportation, registrations and more---for practices, games and tournaments. In order to continue to offer such a wonderful program for so many in our community, we need your help. Let me tell you more about why I think Special Olympics Orange County is so worthy of your financial support.
In the spring, you will find our athletes out running bases on the softball fields, burning up the local track and racing to improve their freestyle and backstroke!

In the summer, you will find a little more laid back swim program but still competitive none-the-less. And, whether you are a strong swimmer or not (and no matter your mobility), you still have a place on the SOOC swim team and in the pool.

In the fall, you will find our athletes on the soccer fields perfecting their shots, on the bocce courts practicing that perfect throw, on the golf courses honing their golf swing and on the tennis courts fine-tuning their serves. You will find some athletes learning how to ride bicycles and some learning how to race competitively.

In the winter, you will find our athletes practicing lay ups and jump shots on the basketball courts and racing down snow-covered mountains on snowboards and skis.

Year-round, these dedicated athletes are out with our devoted volunteers….learning, competing (against each other and against other athletes from across the state), exercising, socializing, making friends, laughing.... They are learning what it means to be a teammate--a friend. Not only are they learning and improving their athletic skills but they are also learning sportsmanship and how to be mentors and leaders. Many get to experience things they might not be able to otherwise. Participation may be a chance to explore their independence as they travel without parents or staff.

I have seen firsthand the amazing camaraderie and joy that participating in Special Olympics brings. I have seen our athletes graciously cheer on an opposing team. Our athletes support each other when injured, when winning and when losing. At State Games, they play with all their hearts, and then, win or lose, join together to dance the night away! I see the camaraderie between coaches and between coaches and athletes. Come check out our sidelines. It's a true community experience as we watch our athletes play-- surrounded and cheered on by an amazing group of people …of teammates and coaches …of family and friends of both coaches and athletes …of university and community members....

That’s how SPECIAL Special Olympics is! I hope you will join us in your support of Special Olympics Orange County today!
Thank you!
Debbie Everly


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Special Olympics Orange County growing!

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