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March 20, 2006

Ashley Seihan and Kevin

UCSC Special Olympics codirector Ashley Seilhan (left) and Kevin "Skippy" Givens of OPERS accept the award in a ceremony March 16.
Photo: Louise Donahue

UCSC receives Special Olympics award

By Louise Donahue

UCSC has been honored by Special Olympics Northern California for its five years of support for Special Olympics athletes.

Starting in 2001 with eight athletes, the UCSC Special Olympics team now has 20 athletes, participating in bowling, basketball, dry-land training sports, and track. UCSC was presented with a plaque in a March 16 ceremony by the UCSC pool.

“Special Olympics has created a unique connection between the university and the members of the surrounding community,” said student codirector Ashley Seilhan. “Not only does our program enhance the lives of Special Olympians but it also touches the lives of the coaches and volunteers. I feel as if I have learned just as much, if not more, from my athletes than they have learned from me.”

The team is student-run with three student codirectors, and works closely with the Office of Physical Education, Recreation, and Sports (OPERS). Kevin "Skippy" Givens, intramural and sports club supervisor, provides support, and the athletes use OPERS facilities. The team was founded by then-student Liz Grumet, now sports manager for Special Olympics Northern California.

"The athletes have such heart and determination for what they are doing and such a great spirit," said codirector Kristen Baldwin. "One of the best memories I have from Special Olympics is when one of the athletes came up to me and said that Special Olympics was 'funnest' thing he's done in his life."

Codirector Perla Corredor said volunteers in the program include students, community members, and members of athletes' families. “We are constantly looking for more volunteers, people with genuine interest in the program so that as student directors graduate we can pass the torch,” she said.

Students, staff, or faculty members wishing to help UCSC Special Olympics may call Givens at (831) 459-4220.

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