LOREN GOODMAN DRIBBLES DOWN THE COURT DURING THE DRIBBLING INDIVIDUAL SKILL PORTION OF THE CRESWELL AND COTTAGE GROVE SPECIAL OLYMPICS BASKETBALL JAMBOREE AT RIVERSIDE CHURCH IN COTTAGE GROVE ON FEB. 16. GOODMAN SAID HE WAS MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO HAVING FUN WITH HIS FRIENDS. Aliya Hall/The Creswell Chronicle
Although Special Olympics Oregon had to skip its events due to a lack in funding, local Program Coordinator Carmen Dowell didn’t want Creswell’s and Cottage Grove’s Special Olympic Athletes to miss out on their basketball season.
”I thought that wasn’t fair to them,” she said.
Instead she worked with Riverside Church in Cottage Grove to set up a Basketball Jamboree on Feb. 16 for 32 local athletes to participate in. Along with choosing an individual skill – like trick shot, fastest dribble or best throw – athletes could also play in a basketball tournament.
”They deserve it,” Dowell said, ”It’s their only time for socialization; if they don’t have practice or regional games, they won’t see their friends from other teams. It’s sad that they’re missing out on that.”
One of the athletes Loren Goodman said he was looking forward to the jamboree going well and having fun with his friends. Although he hasn’t played it in awhile, Goodman said that basketball is an ”okay sport.” He admitted that he was more of a bowler.
Along with Riverside Church, Dowell said the town of Cottage Grove has come together to help with the event. Kiwanis donated lunch and the event received over $1,100 worth of prizes from local shops. From hair, clothing, tickets to the race track, dinner and more she said it’s been ”really beautiful.”
”I’m so humbled,” she said. ”The town has been so great.”
Along with the jamboree itself, Dowell said they will have a moment of silence in honor of Michele Portmann, who was one of the basketball coaches and involved in the Special Olympics.
Portmann donated a gift of $50,000 to the special olympics branch after her unexpected death in 2012; however, Dowell had to fight for the funds when she discovered that Special Olympics Oregon was unable to account for the donation. Over the summer, she protested in Cottage Grove and Special Olympics Oregon began to pay back the money in annual payments.
Dowell said she felt like they had won, and Portmann is smiling down on them. Along with honoring her memory, Dowell is looking forward to all the smiles and hugs from the athletes.
”I love it; I love every single one of these people,” she said. ”Seeing them cheer each other on, it’s a great feeling.”