Down Special Olympics Club dinner to celebrate 10th anniversary

Down Special Olympics Club dinner to celebrate 10th anniversary

17 May 2017

DOWN Special Olympics Club celebrated its 10th anniversary with a special dinner last weekend.

The organisation, which provides a range of sports for children and adults with an intellectual disability, held the event at the Garden Cafe at the St Patrick Centre in Downpatrick.

Next month, Ardglass Golf Club will be hosting the Down Special Olympics Club’s 10th anniversary tournament on June 16 with an open invitation extended to golfers to take part in the event.

The cross-community sports club has made a major difference to the lives of many, with its committed volunteers also getting much out of the time and effort they put in. 

But Down Special Olympics provides athletes with far more than just the physical benefits of sport — it helps change lives. Through sport, athletes develop both physically and emotionally, make new friends, realise their dreams and know that they can fit in with others.

Last week’s anniversary dinner was attended by athletes who were joined by Down Special Olympics Club founder and club chairman, Frank Donnelly. Also in attendance was Special Olympics patron Gerry Kelly, South Down SDLP Westminster election candidate Margaret Ritchie and South Down MLA Colin McGrath.

The club was launched in 1997 with just 10 members, but there are now over 60, with around 20 volunteers, with the organisation enabling athletes to achieve and win not only in sport, but in life.

The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults, providing them with continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of skills and friendship with their families and other special Olympic athletes and the community.

Miss Ritchie said she was delighted to attend last Friday evening’s anniversary dinner and paid tribute to everyone associated with the organisation.

“Undoubtedly, the success and work of Downpatrick Special Olympics can be contributed to the tenacity, fortitude and hard work of chairman Frank Donnelly and his team of volunteers,” she continued.

“In their work, they are supported by Special Olympics Ireland with offices in Belfast and Dublin who provide the encouragement, promotion and assistance to all involved.”

Miss Ritchie also singled out volunteers who give of their time and derive great enjoyment from what they do as well.