APU hosted the second annual Special Olympics on Saturday, March 25 in Cougar Stadium. Lead by Brian Wilmer, Cougar football’s defensive coordinator, the Special Olympics was a collaboration between APU and the San Gabriel Valley Special Olympics Organization.
With more than 45 football players and 120 Special Olympics athletes, each football player was assigned two or three athletes with whom he had the opportunity to build a relationship and encourage throughout the day. There were five rotating stations with activities including the long jump, beanbag toss, hula-hoop relay, softball throw, track relay, parachute toss, and a golf-n-pipe relay. Athletes ranged from all ages, the average being 24-25, each having a different level of function.
The Special Olympics serves as the football program’s yearly service project and is one way, according to Coach Wilmer, of upholding APU’s value of being actively involved in the community. But the purpose of this event is more than just reaching out to the community; it also serves to build up young men of character.
“There’s a bigger impact on the players from these Special Olympics athletes – the attitude that they’ll bring, the smile that they’ll show, the love that they’ll convey,” Wilmer said. “Our guys are put into positions where they have to lead individually or serve someone they’ve never known before.”