BVU Student-Athletes to Host Special Olympics on May 4 at Faith, Hope and Charity

STORM LAKE, IA (04/27/2012)(readMedia)--  Buena Vista University (BVU) student-athletes will have the opportunity to share their knowledge and passion for sports when they host the first-ever Special Olympics Track and Field Day from 1-3 p.m. May 4 at Faith, Hope and Charity (FHC), which serves children with special needs.

Kylie Woodley, a senior biology major from Laurens and secretary of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), has played a key role in planning the upcoming event. "I am looking forward to the athletes interacting with these special children," she says. "I think it is important for BVU students to give back to the community because of how much support we get from the community."

Approximately 15-20 BVU SAAC students and other student-athletes will volunteer at the event, says Kylie, who is a member of the BVU women's golf team. The activities will include relay races, a softball throwing contest, jump roping, hula hooping and cupcake decorating.

"The Special Olympics Track and Field Day at Faith, Hope and Charity hosted by BVU students, is a win-win-win, and another great example of the valued partnership of our organization with BVU," says Cindy Wiemold, executive director at FHC ( "This effort is a wonderful opportunity for the college students and the young people we serve at FHC to connect just through being active and having fun together. It's a chance for the BVU students to give back and for the kids to have fun – a great combination!"

The idea to host a Special Olympics event came about after Dr. Annamaria Elsden, professor of English at BVU, attended the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Convention in San Antonio in January 2011 and learned that the Division III SAAC was initiating a partnership with Special Olympics for the 2011-2012 academic year.

"I started looking into ways that we could connect our student-athletes' talents with the drive and energy of Special Olympians," says Elsden, who is a faculty athletics representative at BVU. "I think our student-athletes perform an important community service when they share with others all the good feelings and physical health that can come from sports. Learning teamwork and athletic skills adds immeasurably to everyone's self-esteem."

Kylie, who works at FHC, says she is looking forward to the event. "The children at FHC have had a huge impact on my life. I want each BVU student-athlete to experience this in hopes that they, too, will become more involved in these children's lives and act as a positive role model for them."

"I'm hoping to see many happy faces at the event," says Elsden. "I think BVU student-athletes will be smiling when they see the impact they can have on a younger person's life, and I think the FHC children will be happy to get outside, play, and develop their skills."