Scioto County Special Olympics honored its nearly 70 athletes at its annual banquet at the SOMC Friends Center on May 21. Jacob Nele was named Adult Athlete of the Year and Dreama Ruggles was named Student Athlete of the Year.
Volunteer of the Year recognition was given to the Shawnee State University Men’s Basketball Team, who readily offer their home court as a place for Special Olympics volleyball games and the Hardwood Heroes Celebrity Basketball Game played every March as part of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. The team also runs the kids’ foul-shot contest at the celebrity game and is always up for an impromptu dunking contest.
Jacob Nele is the team manager for the adult-age basketball team, the Shooting Stars, and was part of a small group of local athletes who attended the State Summer Games in Columbus last June. Jacob brought multiple track and field medals back to Scioto County. Dreama Ruggles is a student at Vern Riffe School and plays on the Cardinals’ basketball team. Her winning attitude, teamwork, and success in school helped make her 2018’s Student Athlete of the Year.
“We are so proud of our athletes, Coach Rita Arthur, the Shawnee State Athletic Department, and all the volunteers and fans,” said Scioto County Developmental Disabilities Superintendent Matt Purcell. “When we have opportunities like this to recognize these folks the way the deserve, it is important to take advantage of those opportunities with events such as this annual banquet.”
Local Olympians participate in competitive sports of basketball, golf, track and field, and volleyball with other Special Olympics teams throughout southern Ohio. Special Olympics offers an opportunity to attain fitness goals while also taking part in competitive team and individual sports.