Area sportsmen raise money for Special Olympics

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 10, 2004

AHOSKIE – In a combined effort to benefit participants of the Special Olympics in eastern North Carolina, the Roanoke-Chowan Bassmasters and the Hertford County Sportsman’s Association met with Special Olympics Coordinator J.J. Beale and Assistant Coordinator Vicki Blanchard last Wednesday to present the $750 they raised for the organization.

&uot;Our members fish local and regional tournaments,&uot; commented R-C Bassmasters member Tommy Oliver. &uot;If they finish high enough to move on to the N.C. State Federation tournament, the top 12 advance to the Southern Divisional where they have the opportunity to compete for a spot in the B.A.S.S. Masters Classic.&uot;

As a member of the group formed in March of 1977, Oliver explained that the local club and northeast region have been long-time supporters of the Special Olympics.

&uot;In the past, a tournament was held every other year with proceeds going to Special Olympics groups in the northeastern part of the state,&uot; he said. &uot;At last count, over $60,000 had been raised.&uot;

Similar to the Bassmasters, the HC Sportsman’s Association, organized in March of 1994, is comprised of representatives of more than a dozen hunting clubs as well as local area directors and is still running strong.

&uot;Sometimes it seems like the media is focused on all the negative things, like careless hunting accidents and things of that nature,&uot; stated member Chester Harrell, &uot;but this organization was formed by county sportsmen, primarily in the hunting community, to act in a unified voice in matters of proposed hunting legislation, and to set, by example, the good sportsmanship of the majority of hunters in Hertford.&uot;

According to Harrell, the group monitors the local scene concerning matters of interest to the community for hunters and non-hunters alike from hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities that affect all county residents.

&uot;We want to be part of a positive change in our community,&uot; he said.

As the two groups presented their donations to Beale and Blanchard on behalf of the area’s Special Olympics, Beale commented that it was an honor to receive the financial gift.

&uot;We have so many things we want to do,&uot; she said. &uot;And this will move us closer to being able to do the things we have been thinking about.&uot;

Blanchard commented that coordinators were brainstorming various activities to add to the program.

&uot;It’s going to be a lot of fun,&uot; she stated. &uot;We are very thankful for the generosity of these groups.

&uot;Their donation will help us continue providing fun, interactive and self-esteem building activities for those who are involved in the program and we are very thankful.&uot;

Special Olympics provides year-round athletic training and sports competition for nearly 40,000 children and adults with mental retardation. The North Carolina division of the organization was named the largest Special Olympics program in North America and the fifth largest program in the world in terms of participation.

For more information on the NC Special Olympics, visit their website at or call 1-800-843-6276.