By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- Special Olympics of Indian River County is looking for more volunteers to help with summer and fall recreation activities, especially golf.
The local Special Olympics group is currently running summer programs for swimming, golf and softball, but the one thing they are missing is volunteers.
SunUp ARC clients and members of Special Olympics meet to play golf twice a week, 4 p.m. on Mondays at Sandridge Golf Course, and 6 p.m. on Wednesdays at the Sebastian Municipal Golf Course, said Noreen Davis, marketing director for SunUp ARC.
"Last week we had 20 people out there to golf," Ms. Davis said. "The generosity of the community and the golf course has provided putters, golf balls, tees and more so the special needs individuals have the opportunity to learn and experience a sport."
Just last week, an email requesting donations of putters was met with a quick response, but the donation of time is just as, if not more valuable, than a physical donation.
"We always need volunteers to just come out. None of us are professional golfers and we don't expect anyone to be," Ms. Davis said.
Theresa Stewart is the service coordinator for SunUp ARC and the county coordinator for Special Olympics.
Her husband, Fran Stewart, gives golf instruction on Wednesday nights and often has players standing around waiting for one-on-one attention.
The students are accustomed to waiting their turn, but having more volunteers would greatly increase the learning experience, and the fun of the game.
While one instructor is working with someone putting, another volunteer could be with someone teaching other skills, even if it is just putting a golf tee in the ground and balancing the ball on top of it, Mrs. Stewart said.
"We always need volunteers," she said.
Swimming is another popular sport going on right now and co-ed softball just got started, Ms. Davis said.
The biggest and most popular sport, bowling will begin later this year, though it is uncertain where all the players will be able to play, Mrs. Stewart said.
"Bowling is our biggest sport, everybody wants to bowl and everyone can bowl," she said.
Mrs. Stewart said she believes there are more than 100 people interested in the bowling program, but the bowling center in Sebastian the group has used in the past recently closed. The other location, in Vero Beach, is still open for business, so it may be that everyone will need to squeeze into that location.
"We're not quite sure what we're going to do," she said.
For more information about volunteering with Special Olympics, contact Mrs. Stewart at (772) 562-6854, Ext. 219.