Special Olympics is a free program bringing competitive sports to the special needs community. I started the Stand Up Paddle (SUP) teams in Sarasota and Charlotte counties after teaching private special needs lessons. I knew that there would be athletes in our community that would benefit from a training program locally.
Every athlete has learned how to stand up paddle and benefited from the training in numerous ways. The team dynamic provides friendships and builds social skills. Physical strength has increased in all of the athletes, as well as stamina and endurance. Coordination was gradual and volunteers remain close by for water safety and to provide verbal cues. The confidence in our athletes has grown exponentially; the families have witnessed drastic progress since the first practice.
Fundraising is important to help our local teams be able to continue and expand. Currently, I shut down my local paddle boarding business on Sunday mornings and dedicate the boards for use in the practices. I will continue to do this however, I do not have enough boards for the expected growth of the program.
Donating locally has a lot of importance as Special Olympics is collecting funding by county. We have two counties on our team Sarasota & Charlotte. The donations must go through our donation link to support our local teams. The Sarasota and Charlotte County SUP Special Olympic Donation Link is: http://www.specialolympicsflorida.org/sup.
The county coordinators have a plan for how the money will be spent for local teams: Travel expenses (hotel, gas, food), and anything needed for competition (shirts, commuting or renting equipment, life vests (PFD’s), extra leashes) and remaining money will go toward equipment to expand the program.
SUP Englewood, donates all the equipment for practice including extra leashes and anchors for safety. Athletes had to purchase PFD’s this year, we are hoping to have this expense covered for new athletes next season.
Embroidery Patch in Venice donated the shirts for competition this year. We are proud to attend the race with matching team shirts in our first year.
SUP ATX will be traveling to Key West for our local Sarasota & Charlotte County athletes. SUP ATX is bringing paddle boards, paddles, and leashes for the competition. They will be providing support for other counties if they have enough equipment. The equipment will be provided for the athletes and for their volunteers.
YOLO has donated a paddle board to each county to help grow and expand this effort. We are very appreciative and look forward to receiving two more practice boards, one for Sarasota and one for Charlotte County athletes.
Grande Tours has offered help and support to our teams with equipment for next years season.
Have paddle boarding experience?
Want to help with this great cause?
We’re looking for experienced paddle boarders to volunteer with our athletes next season. Volunteers will need to become Class A Certified through the Special Olympics. The Head Coach, Nicole Miers-Pandolfi, will provide advanced safety training to all volunteers.
Thanks to all of the community support we are able to go to Key West this year! We need funding for the following year, and for the growth of our local SUP teams. Please donate, any amount helps to expand the program even it’s just $5 every little bit will help to reach our goal.