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Special Olympics has been active and growing in St. Mary's County since 1969. It is a year round comprehensive sports program of training and competition designed to provide the maximum fun and benefit for mentally and physically challenged individuals. Over 200 athletes are now participating in St. Mary's County in a variety of individual and team sports which are offered at the local, district, state, national, and world levels. Special Olympics training and competition is open to per. sons, age five to senior citizens, who have developmental disabilities, regardless of the degree of the disability. Sports training and competition are currently offered in the following areas: Basketball, Swimming, Bowling, T-Ball, Soccer, Track, Sailing, and Horseback Riding.

Our program provides many opportunities to our athletes that would not be readily available to them under other circumstances. Yearly, athletes attend the Maryland State Winter Games at Wisp Ski Resort in Fort McHenry, and the Summer Games at Towson State University. Recently, 18 St. Mary's County athletes represented Team USA in the 19g5 World Games in New Haven, Connecticut. St. Mary's County had the oldest, youngest, and largest number of athletes in Maryland. Our athletes competed against individuals from such countries as Nepal, Ivory Coast, Ecuador, Peru, Russia, and Ireland, as well as many U.S. states. We can proudly say that our athletes represented our county, state, and country with dignity.

The administration of the programs here in St. Mary's County are provided totally by volunteers from various backgrounds. Special Olympics could not exist without the countless time, limitless energy, dedication, and commitment of these volunteers. But more help is always needed. Sports knowledgeable individuals are essential, but experience is not always necessary. Your time and energy can be utilized in many ways. Our volunteer needs in addition to coaching, include assistance with lower ability athletes, timers, scorekeepers, planning, organizing, transportation, and committee members, etc.

We are a non-protit organization totally dependent upon our community for support. In the past, funding has been provided by the United Way of St. Mary's County, fund raising activites, donations from corporations, businesses, service organizations, and individuals. We welcome and greatly appreciate any support given to our Olympians.

Special Olympics believes that through sports training and competition, people with disabilities benefit physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. The community at large, through participation and observation, can gain an understanding of people with disabilities. Special Olympics provides an environment of equality, respect and acceptance for all who are involved.

For more information about athlete participation, volunteering, or financial support for St. Mary's County Special Olympics, please contact Mary Lu Bucci, County Director at (301) 373-3469.
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