Supporting Special Olympics in Beaufort County has turned into a longstanding tradition for residents at Dataw Island.
For 13 years, a handful of the island’s residents and local supporters have sponsored Northern Beaufort County Special Olympics Tennis working with the National Unify Project, a project that places able-bodied athletes with Special Olympics athletes.
“My husband Ralph and I helped start a Special Olympics tennis program in Beaufort County more than 13 years ago,” Laura Bricker, Dataw Island resident and volunteer said. “Working with the local schools to make Special Olympics a school sport took years to accomplish and now we are glad to bring the athletes here to Dataw to practice.”
Throughout the school year, special-needs athletes and other students are brought to the Dataw Island Tennis Center to work with Warren Florence, Dataw Island’s tennis director.
“We do all kinds of drills, work on agility and have a lot of fun,” Florence said. “It is so rewarding to watch these athletes grow in skill level and make friends.”
Dataw Island works with Soar Special Recreation, a nonprofit organization providing activities and recreation for special-needs children and adults throughout the Lowcountry of South Carolina. Soar works to give a “voice” to special-needs athletes.
“This group of people doesn’t have their own voice, and we want them to be treated like everyone else,” said Kathy Cramer, Soar Program director and a retired special education teacher in the local school system for 33 years. “We need to help people understand who these people are so they can be included.”
In support of Soar Special Recreation in 2015, Dataw Island turned the Dataw Splash, an annual USTA Tennis Tournament, into a fundraiser for Special Olympics.
This year, the 2017 Dataw Splash Tournament will be June 16-18 as more than 100 tennis players from throughout the region converge upon Dataw’s eight courts to battle it out in “Splash!”
The Dataw Splash is a United States Tennis Association level three tournament, sanctioned by the Southern South Carolina region of the United States Tennis Association. It will be held at the Dataw Island Tennis Center. Anyone who is a USTA member in the U.S. is welcome to play in this tournament.