Exchange Club donates to Special Olympics

ALBANY -- Russ Allen, chairman for Special Olympics Dougherty, said contributions from the community are vital to keep the event going year after year.

At the Exchange Club of Albany meeting Friday afternoon, the club donated $500 to the Special Olympics of Dougherty to assist in preparations for the event that is scheduled for May 14.

"We (Special Olympics Dougherty) are responsible for all the fundraising in Dougherty County," said Allen. "We are really dependent on local businesses and local civic clubs to keep this event going so that we can provide for our 480 athletes."

The chairman said the wonderful thing about donating to the Special Olympics is that the money serves and stays in Dougherty County.

Allen said that Special Olympics Dougherty would not happen without the support of the Dougherty County School System and Superintendent Sally Whatley.

"The support of the school system makes it really easy to do our job and Sally Whatley has been instrumental in our success," he said.

Allen added that he and other Special Olympics Dougherty staff look forward to meeting Dougherty County School System Superintendent-select Joshua Murfree, the new superintendent named by the Dougherty Board of Education Wednesday.

Allen also encouraged Exchange Club members to participate in a campaign called Spread the Word to End the Word whose goal is to get people to stop and think about their hurtful and disparaging use of the word "retard" and pledge to stop using it.

"It's hurtful," said Allen. "You may think they (people with intellectual disabilities) don't understand, but they do."

The Special Olympics chairman said the old saying: "Sticks and stone may break my bones but words will never hurt me" is untrue.

"It's a bunch of garbage," said Allen. "Words do hurt."

More information on the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign can be found at www.r-word.org.

The opening ceremonies for the Special Olympics for Dougherty County is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. at Albany State University's HPER Gym.