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FGCU to host Winter Games for people with disabilities

FGCU to host Winter Games for people with disabilities

FGCU will be hosting the second annual Winter Games 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23. The event, which will take place on the recreation field, mimics the Special Olympics and will comprise sport stations for the visiting participants with disabilities and their assigned buddies to interact with. Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 6.27.51 PM

This year, two nonprofits and participants from six Lee County schools will be involved in the Winter Games. Lauren Morimanno, an FGCU ambassador and the event coordinator, said FGCU is still getting many last-minute signups as the games draw closer.

“There are many misconceptions about those with disabilities,” Morimanno said. “We hope this event can not only serve as a way to bring together the FGCU and Lee County community, but also change people’s minds by shedding a more positive light on these individuals.”

FGCU students can receive service-learning hours for volunteering as participants’ buddies or in behind-the-scenes roles. There are leadership opportunities as well; many past volunteers have returned this year as committee board members.

Last year, there were 120 participants and 150 volunteers. With 63 confirmed participants so far, Morimanno believes there will be an even higher turnout this year and hopes to have a similar proportion of volunteers to ensure everyone gets a buddy.

“Many participants look forward to this all year,” Morimanno said. “This event is therapy for them. They’re being independent. They’re enjoying themselves.”

So far, participating on-campus organizations include Leadership Through Service, Greek life, Ignite, The Porch, Chi Alpha, Gulf Coast Wesley, Phi Eta Sigma, Student Government, FGCU Rotaract, Signing Eagles, Hillel FGCU and Adaptive Services.

“The experience of volunteering with the participants — not to be cheesy — is life-changing,” Morimanno said. “It is such a humbling experience. We can learn so much from them — appreciating the little things for one. Honestly, they are my role models.”

To register, visit the FGCU Winter Games Facebook page or call Morimanno at 239-682-7765.

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