Thursday, May 8, 2014

5/7/14 Special Olympics at Dataw Island

Dataw Island; SC

     There is just something about the Special Olympics organization.  I was impressed a few months back when I wrote about Charleston golf pro Brad Parker, and today I got to spend the day around the athletes and those that work with them again.

Dayna Hohlfeldt

     Dayna Hohlfeldt works with the Special Olympics athletes for Beaufort County SC., and Wednesday is the day that Dataw Island hosts the athletes from Beaufort Middle School every week.  Dayna has been working with Special Olympics for 7 years, making possible programs including horseback riding, basketball, track and field and other events.  Dayna, like everyone else who works with these athletes says she is happiest in life when she is working with them.

     Some years back Dataw residents Ralph and Laura Bricker got the program going, and it is carried on today by Warren Florence, Dataw Island's golf pro.

Warren Florence

     Warren, father of four, has been a tennis instructor for 27 years.  When he came here a year ago from Palmetto Bluff.  Soon after he arrived, Ralph Bricker approached him about continuing the Special Olympics program.  Warren told him numerous times that he didn't think he could handle it with all of the other responsibilities that came with the job.
     Well, September started a new school year and Bricker got him to try it once.  As Warren tells it, it was love at first sight.  Nine months later Warren is handling all tennis events for Beaufort County Special Olympics.  Dataw is hosting high school Special Olympics Athletes and a mixed program where regular high school athletes from local schools play integrated events with the Special Olympics Athletes.

     And it is far from just Dayna and Warren who put on these events.  A half dozen Dataw Island residents show up and help put on the events.

Anne Schmitt

     I neglected to get the gentleman's name in this photo, but he is out playing with the children not long after having his knees replaced.  And Anne - she was a bundle of energy who bustled about and cheered the kids on.

Barbara DeVisser

    Barbara DeVisser is another Dataw resident that volunteers.  Here she is serving up balls for the children to hit.  When this little guy hit one right at her I thought it was kind of funny.

     But, you know that Karma thing.  Here was the very next shot out of this little guy.

     I managed to hang on to the camera - It's hard to see a ball coming right at you when your face is stuck to your view-finder !!
Actually, I was surprised how well the athletes did.  All of the volunteers remarked how much progress they have made this year on their play.

     Warren alternately drilled, cajoled, encouraged and pushed the children to better themselves.  Thanks to all involved for doing what they are doing.  And since Dr. Rusty Turner and the others working with the new neurology techniques are having a big impact on autism, I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot more of the Special Olympics over the next few years.

     The island wanted me to get a few shots for their web-page, so I tried to shoot some "lifestyle" shots.  Barbara and Jerry DeVisser are retired school teachers who are now Dataw residents.  We made a trial run this morning - we are going to try again tomorrow.  Here are a couple of shots.

     Here is another of a random golfer that I thought came out ok:

     I even had time for a few artistic shots.

     That last shot is all that remains of a house that was washed out during a hurricane in the late 1800's.

     And today's parting shot is a pair I spotted that were very friendly with each other.  I guess love is in the air on Dataw Island.

Happy Thursday Everyone !!

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