It was a cast of thousands — more like about 50 — that put on quite a show Thursday at Norwalk High School when the Huron County Bears met the Celebrity All-Stars of Huron County in a benefit basketball game.
The Huron County Bears, the Special Olympics basketball team supported by the Huron County Board of Developmental Disabilities, got to show off their skills against the Celebs with all of the proceeds going to the Salvation Army.
“We are grateful to everybody who played, volunteered and just came out and supported us,” HCBDD Superintendent Kari Smith said.
Smith said the event was developed as part of the celebration of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, which typically is in March in Ohio. While there was no charge for admission to the game, donations of canned goods and other non-perishable food items were accepted at the door. The HCBDD self-advocate group sold pizza and other items at the concession stand to raise funds for the group members to attend conferences and learn more about their rights and responsibilities as citizens.
“We felt this game was a good way to connect with the community, allowing our players to give something back by raising donations for the Salvation Army and increasing awareness of the Special Olympics program,” Smith said. “It’s a true win/win.”
The Bears won the game on the scoreboard, but like Smith said, everybody was a winner.
“It was an amazing night,” Smith said. “I couldn’t have asked for more. And the Bears won. We had so much positivity I think we absolutely will have one next year. Maybe we will get a friendly rivalry going with the Celebrities.”
Barb Wrabel, community outreach specialist, said the Bears mean so much to the individuals who are part of the team.
“It’s a good thing to be active,” she said. “It’s a good thing to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Just having a good time is a big thing.”
Smith, Wrabel and treasurer Allyn Schnellinger hauled all of the food collected to the Salvation Army Friday morning.
“We couldn’t weight it,” Smith said with a laugh. “I know we had five cartfuls. We actually had to load up a shuttle (bus) to get it there.
“We did collect $586 in cash and gift cards that we also gave to the Salvation Army.”
The HCBDD will hold a breakfast at 9 a.m. Friday at Christie Lane.
“This is DD awareness month,” Smith said. “We want to show what services we provide and the people we support. It is just a thank-you to the community and our partners who support us.”
Check out a highlight video at www.norwalkreflector.com.
Joe Centers is Reflector managing editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.