A group of student athletes at UW-Stout will have a home game of sorts on Sunday, Feb. 17. The visiting team: Special Olympics athletes from west-central Wisconsin.
About 30 Blue Devils athletes, from all sports, will be volunteering for the Special Olympics district Basketball Team and Skills Tournament at UW-Stout. About 500 Special Olympians from western and northern Wisconsin are expected.
Events will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Johnson Fieldhouse and in the Multipurpose Room of the Sports and Fitness Center, which adjoins the fieldhouse.
The student volunteers are representing the UW-Stout Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. “It’s a pretty rewarding event to take part in,” said Lucas Morgan, SAAC president who was a safety on the Blue Devils football team.
Special Olympics’ 50th anniversary was in 2018. The Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference is working to have at least 50 student volunteers from each UW System school at Special Olympics events during the 2018-19 academic year, Morgan said.
“You really can grow as a person when you give back. I don’t think anyone has done some sort of service and regretted it. That’s how we look at it,” said Morgan, who also volunteers as a wrestling coach at Menomonie Middle School.
Morgan, a 2014 graduate of Cameron High School, will graduate in May with a degree in mechanical engineering. He already has accepted a full-time job with Sonoco Plastics of DeKalb, Ill. He received a university Outstanding Co-op Student of the Year Award in 2018.
UW-Stout has between 400 and 500 athletes. The SAAC’s goal is to get most of them to volunteer each academic year. “We are doing a lot of great things,” Morgan said.
SAAC recently held its annual pre-Super Bowl party for adults with disabilities in Menomonie and volunteered at two other Special Olympics events, the Feb. 9 Polar Plunge and for a basketball scrimmage Feb. 2 at halftime of a UW-Stout women’s game.
Other volunteer efforts by SAAC members each year include:
- Visiting area retirement homes
- Campus clean-up each spring
- Food pantry collection drive each fall
- Kids Night Out games and activities for area children, spring and fall
- Winter clothing drive for Bridge to Hope
SAAC vice presidents are Mara Jones, of St. Paul, a senior in art education, from the cheer team; and Becky Fesenmaier, of Spring Valley, a junior in art education, from the basketball team.
UW-Stout athlete Tyler Seymour gives a Blue Devils T-shirt to a Special Olympics athlete at a recent event.
Lucas Morgan is president of the UW-Stout Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. He played for the Blue Devils football team.
Members of UW-Stout’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee work with a group of Special Olympics athletes recently.