The KCK Huggers Inc.-Special Olympics are celebrating their 25th anniversary of services and programming for the developmental disabled of Wyandotte County.
The celebration is being held at the Agricultural Hall of Fame located at 630 N. 126th, Bonner Springs, Kan., with the event opening at 4 p.m. Saturday, May 31.
Tickets are $8 for adults and children ages 12 and under $5. It is all you can eat, great music, balloons and party favors at the dance following the awards presentations. This event is open to the community, family and friends of special Olympic athletes.
The Huggers were incorporated in 1988 and take their name from the individuals who wait at the finish line to congratulate the athletes as they complete their race for Olympic medal, then they ultimately achieve their own “self” empowerment.
The KCK “Kings” Special Olympic Team competed in Special Olympic competition long before the Huggers came into existence.
The KCK “Kings” Special Olympic Team was the very first Special Olympic program in Wyandotte County. The team was founded by Ruth Ann Denison and Nancy L. Clements in 1971.
Just four years after Special Olympics was started under the administration of President John F. Kennedy and his family. Their first sport was bowling with track, basketball, and softball quickly following. Then in 1987, these Wyandotte County pioneers ask for the help of KCK Parks and Recreation Department.
Under the department’s assistance the KCK Huggers, Inc.-Special Olympics was born and more of our communities “special needs” individuals have had greater opportunities for personal growth. The team’s numbers have increased from 52 athletes in 1987 to approximately 400-plus in 2014.
KCK Hugger’s vision for the developmentally disabled of Wyandotte County is “Helping to empower people with special needs to enjoy a healthy, active and enriching life.”
The Huggers are a small organization driven by volunteers and community partners in order to provide a well-rounded program for the “special needs” population of Wyandotte County. There are 58 volunteers who donate over 3,500 hours of service each year through coaching of sports, teaching classes, assisting with fundraising and helping the athletes to experience community events and activities. In addition, the Huggers co-sponsor two special needs groups one for the young ladies called the Orchids and a BSA’s Special Needs Boy Scout Troop No. 133 for the young men.
Financial support for the programs, sports, and special activities for this segment of the community’s population each year are provided by the Huggers. This support ranges from $75,000 to $85,000 each year. It is important to note that 95 cents of every dollar raised in 2012 went to programming. The KCK Huggers Inc.-Special Olympics Board is led by Board Chairman Don Crabtree, of Merit Construction, Chair-elect Randy Olson, and Executive Director Anne Phillips.
United Way of Wyandotte County, Greater Community Foundation, Local 64 Firefighters Union, Kansas City Kansas Community College, Board Public Utilities, Local Labor Unions 1290 and 1290PE, and UG Parks and Recreation Department all have been major supporters of the Huggers. Several businesses have contributed to these special athletes and the organization.
Check out the website at www.kckhuggers.org for more information. Call 913-573-8356 to be placed on the mailing list for special needs activities and sports or for additional information.