For the second straight year, the Johnson & Wales University Department of Athletics hosted the “Fan In The Stands” event, honoring Special Olympics of Rhode Island. A partnership between SORI and the JWU Community, the event showcases 14 teams from across the state. SORI unified teams (teams that have members with and without disabilities) gives a tremendous opportunity to promote inclusion through sport. Unified sports offer unique opportunities and experiences not only to the athletes, but to the fans.
A wildly successful program that gained national recognition last year and was implemented at other New England institutions, the Fan In The Stands event was held as a wrap up for the Unified Teams 6 week program. Several of the JWU squads have become Special Olympics Rhode Island volunteers due to the connections made at last year’s event.
JWU opened its doors for the event to over 350 people. The night featured mini-games played by each of the participating teams, skills competitions and an All-Star game. To create an even more exciting atmosphere, athletic teams from the JWU family created a “carnival” game pertaining to their sport, enticing athletes and fans to earn tickets to win items donated by each of the teams. Students, SORI athletes and partners and JWU administrators competed in these booths. Once that portion of the evening was over, fans filled the bleachers to watch the competitions. Organizations from around the campus participated in ‘adopt a team’. Many dressed in their teams colors, made posters and cheered on the SORI athletes. Staff members from the Great Northeast Athletic Conference were also in attendance and will be producing a video for the event.
In addition to the prizes, relationships and the experience, JWU hosted a pledge station. In conjunction with the ‘Spread the Word to End the Word’ campaign, students and fans were able to sign the pledge poster, to help promote awareness to end the “r” word. This has been a worldwide campaign, helping to increase awareness around our communities.
Johnson & Wales University will be holding a Day of Service, dubbed Wildcat Nation Unites; Special Olympics of Rhode Island USA Games Showcase on Saturday, May 17th. The event will take place at the Scotts Miracle-Gro Athletics Complex and will celebrate the 10 teams travelling to New Jersey for the USA Game while bringing the entire campus community together to honor these outstanding athletes.