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New Event Teeing Off to Help Special Olympics

Special Olympics/Leon County

There are many ways to support the Special Olympics program. But there’s a newly created gala that’s set to help out Leon County’s Special Olympians.

One of the key people behind this new event is Bill Schack. If that name sounds familiar, you may have heard that he’s in charge of food service at the Kearney Center. He also ran for Tallahassee City Commission a few years back. But even before that, he recalls attending a Special Olympics happening and becoming intrigued.

“So I went up to the county coordinator who I’d known along with some other people involved in the program and I said I wanted to be involved in Special Olympics. And she said they’d just started a golf program and asked if I played. I do play and I love golf and I’d actually come to Florida State University from New Jersey to play golf. I never made the team, but I still have a way to play golf, but in a different way. So for the past 17 years I’ve been coaching golf for Special Olympics,” he recalled.

Since then, Schack said the local program has grown by leaps and bounds.

“I believe in Leon County we have upwards of 700 athletes that participate between the school and adult programs. I coach a few sports at the adult program, but we have hundreds of coaches and volunteers that come out to all our events and sports.”

Perhaps most gratifying, said Schack, is the impact that the program has on its participants.

“But what people get out of it I think is a sense of pride, they learn about teamwork and come out of their shell in a way. I’ve seen kids, just working with them individually on the golf course, a child that can barely be touched, moving him into a position where he doesn’t like that, to someone who’s actively talking and enjoying the game, just by working with one’s sport. I just think it’s a great way for kids to learn necessary life skills.”

All at what Schack insisted must be considered one of the best bargains around.

“They just do so much and the great thing about Special Olympics is that it doesn’t cost families or athletes a dime. And that’s why I call it the greatest non-profit in the world. It’s because they provide it all for free. And that’s why events like what we’re going to talk about are very important for the program.”

Schack revealed this event is one with a direct connection to his great love, golf.

“On October 18th at Golden Eagle Country Club we have what we’re calling the ‘Night of Champions.’ We’ve had fund-raisers in the past, but we’re trying to change it up a little bit and switch things to make it a real event to where people are going to look forward to it every single year.”

In keeping with that goal, Schack said the evening will feature lots of enjoyable aspects.

“We’ll have silent auction items, great food, a cocktail hour with music during it. We just want to make it a great event and more than that we want to educate the public on what Special Olympics does. Believe it or not a lot of people think Special Olympics just happens once a year. We have it almost every day, some sport that’s taking place every week.”

All of which requires plenty of financial support to maintain. Schack said more details are online.

“We want people to go on to the website: www.specialolympicsflorida/ and check out tickets, purchasing a table, we’re still looking for sponsors.”

Lots of ways to help out what Schack calls the “greatest non-profit in the world.”

Follow @flanigan_tom

Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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