Special Oylympics Regatta Sept. 13-15
By Pamela A. Keene
Sailors take to the water for a good cause; Special Olympian shares his talent with T-shirt design
Dale Jones, 50, shares his artistic talent with Lake Lanier sailors, creating the artwork that’s been showcased on the Special Olympic Regatta T-shirts for the past five years. But to Dale, it’s more than about drawing sailboats for T-shirts.
He and thousands of other athletes are Special Olympians who compete across the state in both winter and summer games, made possible in part by the able-bodied sailors of Lake Lanier who raise money to complete in the annual Special Olympics Regatta each September.
This year’s 14th annual event takes place September 13-15 and is headquartered at Sunrise Cove Marina. Skippers will raise a minimum of $250 to enter their boats into the competitive event that also includes a couple of parties, dinner, raffles, a silent auction and prizes. The grand prize, for the skipper who raises the most money, is a 4-day, 3-night Wyndham Resort vacation in one of three locations – the Bahamas, Mexico or the Dominican Republic.
The weekend begins with the Skippers’ meeting on Friday evening. Two days of racing begins on Saturday morning at 11. After a full day of races skippers, crew, family and friends will enjoy the Skippers’ Reception, dinner and live music by the band Poverty Level. Drinks and food sponsors include Pilgrim’s Pride, Texas Roadhouse and Peach of a Party, Vixen Vodka, The Beer Growler and HomeTown Spirits. Sunday’s racing continues at 10:30 a.m.
“We expect to have between 25 and 30 boats in four fleets,” said Jennifer Daniell with Special Olympics Georgia, who is also an avid sailor on Lanier. “It’s going to be a great event and we hope that people will come out and support us. Our goal is to raise at least $25,000, which would send 250 Special Olympians to next year’s State Games.” Speaking of the State Games, Jones participates in several events throughout the year, including bowling, basketball and 400m, 800m and 1-mile runs. He lives in Henry County.
Special Olympics Georgia serves nearly 26,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities by offering 25 sports, including sailing and kayaking. Athletes train for eight weeks before a competition and coaching is done by thousands of volunteers across the state. Hall and Forsyth counties each have approximately 500 athletes participating in Special Olympics program, while Gwinnett has more than 3,500.
Daniell has been active in the Lake Lanier Sailing Community for 15 or so years. The Special Olympics Regatta began when she approached Southern Sailing Club and the group decided to host a fund-raising event each fall to benefit Special Olympics.
“Through my involvement in sailing on Lanier, I’ve made many friends and become thoroughly ingrained in the sailing community,” she said. “It’s been a total blast, plus it’s so rewarding to see these sailors give of their time, energy and enthusiasm to support Special Olympics Georgia. “It’s also really great to see the lake levels up this year at full pool and so many people enjoying the lake this summer,” she said. “This is the only fund-raising sailing regatta on the lake that I know of, and it’s fabulous to see so many people giving back to help our Special Olympians follow their dreams.”
This year’s sponsors include Allconnect, Gold level; Rooms to Go Children’s Fund, Bronze level; Troncalli, Host level; and BVI Yacht Charters, Friend level. Marina sponsors are Aqualand Marina, Bald Ridge Marina, Gainesville Marina, Habersham Marina, Port Royale and Sunrise Cove Marina.
; 770 414-9390 ext. 110