The Rotary Club of Grand Cayman is enlisting the community to pitch in and participate at the Rotary Olympics, a fundraising event that will help local Special Olympics athletes compete against their peers in March’s Special Olympics World Summer Games in the United Arab Emirates.

The “Rotary Olympics,” which will be held at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28, at Sea Alissa, the home of A.L. and Melissa Thompson on South Church Street, will be a fun collection of family-style games designed to raise money for the trip abroad to the World Summer Games.

The Special Olympics Summer Games will be held in Abu Dhabi and Dubai on March 14-21, and a 37-member Cayman delegation is poised to compete in a number of activities.

Special Olympics Cayman Islands has already raised $100,000 of a $200,000 goal to finance the journey, and the Rotary Olympics next month is one event designed to help fill in the gaps.

“It’s incredibly meaningful when people come out and help make this possible,” said Vanessa Hansen Allott, a public relations representative for Special Olympics Cayman Islands. “It means the world to the athletes and it’s beneficial for the community when we’re working together that way.”

The Rotary Olympics will feature a festive mix of competitions, including backyard games like Giant Jenga, Connect 4, Twister and Cornhole, among others. Prizes will be distributed in categories such as Best Costume, Best Team Name, Worst Athletic Ability, Crowd Participation and more.

And while the competition at the Rotary Olympics will be for fun, the objective of event is something bigger.

Cayman will be sending 19 athletes, seven unified partners and 11 coaches and staff members who are pouring their hearts into preparing for their moment on the international stage.

Cayman’s Special Olympics team will compete in athletics, aquatics, basketball and bocce.

Three of the disciplines include unified partners, where people without intellectual disabilities train and compete alongside Special Olympics athletes.

An estimated 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches will represent 170 countries at the Special Olympics Summer Games, and there will be 30,000 volunteers and 50,000 spectators cheering them on.

Jessica McDowall, daughter of the late Penny McDowall, will be the head swim coach for Cayman’s Special Olympics delegation.

All of the competitors will take the athletes’ oath before competition, which will include them saying: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Kathryn Walsh from the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman said that admission to the Rotary Olympics event this month will come with a plate of jerk chicken and a drink, and she said the Rotary Club hopes the fundraiser will be more fun than the average event on the Cayman social calendar.

“We try to support the community wherever we see a need,” said Ms. Walsh. “The Special Olympics team has been working very hard at getting over there. These are all stellar athletes that deserve all the recognition they can get and every penny we can raise for them. If this goes really well, we’re hoping we can do this again.”

Entry will cost $120 for a team of four and $35 per individual. Rotaract Blue Cayman Islands will serve as a co-sponsor of the Rotary Olympics along with the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman.

For more details, send an email to [email protected]

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