Athens 2005: Special Olympics Come to APU

by Nicole Chin '08

One of the main goals of APU’s Athletics Department is to instill within the men and women of their program a Christ-likeness character. The 2005 Cougar football team, with this goal in mind, gathered for their annual service project—hosting a day of Special Olympics in Cougar Stadium.

Directed by Brian Willmer, an APU football coach, the Special Olympics on Saturday, April 16, 2005, consisted of five events: softball throw, bean bag toss, track relay, relays with hula hoops and balls, and the long jump. More than 100 Special Olympians participated with more than 60 football players and coaches. Each football player was assigned one or more special needs athletes to interact with for the course of the games.

The opportunity to work hand-in-hand with special needs students blessed each and every one of the players. Willmer’s desire was to "see Godly men of character better equipped to serve the Lord when all is said and done."

The interaction impacted many of the football players. Travis Bengard '08 reflected, "[The thing I enjoyed the most was] the opportunity to spend time with these amazing athletes. I just enjoy being around them, and I hope that their enthusiasm and positive attitudes will rub off on me."

Willmer saw God working through each young man as he interacted, usually one-on-one, with a special needs athlete. He enjoyed watching them connect with each other, observing moments and glimpses of newly defined character. "I was really excited to serve, hang out, and spend time with exceptional athletes and exceptional people," said Willmer.