After work and planning for over two months, the University of Oregon’s O Heroes helped host the “O”lympics for members of the Boys and Girls Club of Emerald Valley at the Westmoreland branch in Eugene. This past Friday, May 11, nearly 50 student-athlete representatives including the women’s lacrosse team as well as members of football, track, soccer, volleyball, acrobatics and tumbling, baseball and tennis came out to dedicate some time with kids there.
The event lasted a little over two hours and consisted of a series of competitions. There were organized activities for around 100 children belonging to the Boys and Girls Club, who were paired with O Heroes student-athletes.
The “O”lympics event was particularly significant this year. Back in October, the Boys and Girls Club had to shut down its operations. This greatly impacted the 150-180 children who come through the doors daily. Thankfully, the organization was able to restructure and began running again by January. Branch Director Adam Vozzola credits O Heroes student-athletes for bringing attention to the situation and helping attract volunteers throughout that trying period.
Lead student organizer Maggie Kovacs headed the planning on the O Heroes’ side and oversaw the involvement of all the student-athlete participants. She described the day as a celebration of the partnership these groups have and the resurgence of the Boys and Girls Club. Kovacs and her fellow lacrosse teammates have gotten extremely close the cause, working continuously with the kids for over a year. She hopes to bring attention to them through holding this event.
Kovacs explained that a lot more information about the Boys and Girls Club was discovered after the organizations’ closing. The struggle to reopen really helped bring to light the impact of the volunteering that she and others had been contributed to. University of Oregon linebacker Michael Clay was also instrumental in helping put this day together and has been dedicated to providing leadership to the youth at the Boys and Girls Club over his years at Oregon..
The event with the Boys and Girls Club was modeled after the actual “O”lympics event Oregon student-athletes take part in each year. Organizers decided to bring this format that was so enjoyable to the kids that they have connected with. At the Boys and Girls Clubs “O”lympics there were 30 teams of children and 15 event stations making up the competition. The activities included a bounce house course, soccer goal kick, Boys and Girls Club trivia, sign language spelling bee, best art painting contest, airplane distance throw, ping pong doubles game, 3 ball, dance-off, foosball, pedometer challenge, time puzzle making, lacrosse toss, basketball shot, football toss.
Some notable figures were in attendance for the event. Senior Associate Athletic Director Lisa Peterson was impressed by the amount of work she has seen Oregon student-athletes do with the Boys and Girls Club. She really enjoyed the chance to see the “O”lympics put into action. Peterson said that it’s important for O Heroes student-athletes and others to get to kids at this younger age and provide positive role models.
Storm Kennedy, a local radio host with KUGN, was also there covering the event. She particularly wanted to help spread word about the close relationship between O Heroes and the Boys and Girls Club. Kennedy made a point to be there in person to support these organizations. She has seen that the “O”lympics has led to great community feedback.
The O Heroes participants expressed a desire and hope to keep the bond with the kids of Eugene’s Boys and Girls Club ongoing through future. Everyone involved recognized that this “O”lympics was truly a special event and they hope to get others involved next year and build more awareness.
--- Hannah McGonigal
Click on the video player below for interviews and footage of this year's event.
BASKETBALL - M
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GOLF - M
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TENNIS - M
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TRACK & FIELD
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