Two days after Yuba-Sutter Special Olympics Director T.J. Fetters provided Rotarians with the story of the founding and growth of the worldwide organization devoted to providing athletic competition opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities, several dozen local Special Olympics athletes gathered at Blackburn-Talley Park in Yuba City for what was planned as another softball tournament hosted by the local organization. Unfortunately, COVID-19 had other plans and none of the Special Olympics teams from other communities made the trip. That didn't dampen the enthusiasm of most of the athletes, who were excited to be on the field and in uniform for the first time in over a year.
Several dozen of the area's 200 Special Olympians gathered Saturday for skills competition and softball games.
They participated in drills to sharpen their skills, and chose up teams and played softball anyway.
There are approximately 200 individuals with intellectual disabilities who participate in year-round sports programs provided by Yuba-Sutter Special Olympics, Fetters told Marysville Rotarians, who have designated Y-S Special Olympics as the beneficiary of this year's Sodbusters fundraising event.
A Vietnam veteran who was stationed at Beale Air Force Base, Fetters was "drafted" onto the local Special Olympics Board of Directors in the mid-1970s by Larry Montna, one of a small group of parents of children with intellectual disabilities who started Special Olympics here in the late 1960s.
Fetters traced the history of Special Olympics worldwide. The story begins with Rosemary Kennedy and her sister, Eunice. Members of the famed Kennedy family (their brother John became President), they participated, like all of the Kennedy siblings, in many sporting games growing up. Eunice came to understand that while she could go on to become a college athlete, there were few opportunities for her sister, Rosemary, who had an intellectual disability. In 1962, Eunice started Shriver Camp in her backyard, and by 1968 the first Special Olympics competition occurred in Chicago with 1,000 athletes participating. Today, more than 5 million athletes in 175 countries compete year-round in 32 different sports supported my some one million volunteers, including coaches, among them our Club's own Mike Cowley.
Eunice Kennedy and her sister, Rosemary, the impetus for starting Special Olympics in the 1960s.
Yuba-Sutter Special Olympics Director T.J. Fetters presented a plaque to the Marysville Rotary Club as a thank you for the support that will be provided to the organization through Sodbusters. President Matt Peyret accepted the plaque.