Bringing the Joy of Sports

by Kate Sullivan '15

Special Olympics, the world’s largest sports organization, brings together a community of athletes, families, and volunteers to celebrate the achievements and determination of athletes with intellectual disabilities. A partnership between the Special Olympics and Azusa Pacific University’s Adapted Physical Education Department, within the School of Education, brings a Special Olympics basketball event featuring 12 teams of adult athletes from the San Gabriel Valley and Los Angeles region to Felix Event Center on Saturday, April 12.

The daylong event begins with an opening ceremony at 9:30 a.m. The tournament runs from 10 a.m.–3 p.m. and ends with an awards ceremony.From start to finish, more than 150 APU graduate and undergraduate students will volunteer as court managers, score/time keepers, fans in the stands, and medical volunteers. “This tournament allows APU students to reflect the love of Jesus as they interact, encourage, and serve the athletes throughout the day,” said Cindy Tanis, program director of graduate physical education and adapted physical education.

Kristy Puckett, an adapted physical education student, said she jumped at the opportunity to help. “I find working with people with disabilities very rewarding. To me, the Special Olympics is the ultimate stage for athletic competition and I look forward to being involved.”

For 43 years, the Special Olympics has transformed the lives of 4.3 million athletes in 170 countries through the joy of sports. Special Olympics believes that people with intellectual disabilities will succeed when given the chance. The Special Olympics provides 32 different Olympic–style sports in various degrees of competition for athletes with intellectual disabilities. Eloise Crawford, the regional director of Special Olympics Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley, sees the many benefits of this program in the lives of the athletes. “By participating in sports, physical fitness, and health education programs, athletes increase self-esteem and social skills, improve physical and motor skills, and are better equipped to lead more productive and independent lives.”

For more information on the event, contact Cindy Tanis, at or (626) 815-6000, Ext. 5230. For more information on volunteering, contact Rachel Pittock of Special Olympics Southern California at or (562) 502-1123.