Special Olympics athletes golf at Selfridge

  • Published
  • By Penny Carroll
  • 127th Public Affairs
The Selfridge Golf Course hosted a 9-hole golf outing for Special Olympics Michigan athletes and Project UNIFY partners; the UNIFY project aligns athletes between the ages of 8 to adults with community volunteers, usually of the same age range, for sports events and training.

Through a special DoD grant to local Special Olympic programs, and in conjunction with the US Army Garrison-Detroit Arsenal's Family, Morale, Wellness and Recreation and Child, Youth and School Services, military families are becoming increasingly involved in the project in the southeast Michigan area.

Ann Guzdzial, chief program officer of Special Olympics Michigan explained, "This year, working with MWR and Ms. Wendy May, the Garrison's school liaison, we've had many children of military families as our Unified Partners, for sports like bowling, basketball, bocce ball, and now golf."

Guzdzial said local military families are also heavily involved with a precursor to Special Olympics Michigan, the Young Athlete program, which aims at reaching children age 2-7 with intellectual disabilities to teach social and sports skills in preparation for the Olympics. The Young Athlete program also focuses on connecting families with other families and resources.

Approximately 80 participants -- Special Olympic Athletes, UNIFY Partners and parents -- were awarded with special coins and medals by Brig. Gen. Leonard Isabelle, Michigan assistant adjutant general for air, and Col. Michael Thomas, 127th Wing commander, at the end of the outing.

"These men and women, boys and girls, are true athletes," Thomas said at the presentation ceremony, "and the UNIFY Partners, regardless of their ages are true leaders in this community. I'm grateful to be a small part of this program today."