The Ferris State men’s and women’s basketball teams will be pairing up with the Area 5 Special Olympics basketball team in the 11th annual Heart to Heart, Hand to Hand Special Olympics basketball game on Thursday, April 21, in Wink Arena.
Players of the Area 5 Special Olympics team, which serves 64 athletes in Mecosta and Osceola County, will pair up with basketball players from Ferris State in an exhibition game at Wink Arena.
The athletes will be intermingled to create a red team and a white team that will compete during the exhibition. The event is free and open to the public, and donations will be accepted during the game to raise money for Area 5 Special Olympics.
Sports Careers registered student organization (RSO) is hosting the event in conjunction with Ferris professor Sandy Alspach’s communication classes and the Area 5 Special Olympics.
Ferris sports communication sophomore Sean Williams is running the event as the Special Olympics coordinator of Sports Careers RSO and he is also in Alspach’s COMM 389 class.
Williams, who has family involved in the Special Olympics all around the nation, said, “Our goal is to try to bring more people to the event than past years to kind of bring the Special Olympics athletes into the spotlight. I think everyone has bought in to how big this can be for the Special Olympians.”
Events will take place during timeouts and intermissions including relay races and musical chairs. At halftime, a dunk contest between four Ferris men’s basketball players will take place as well as a three-point contest between players from all three teams involved.
Ferris State senior Jared Stolicker has played in the event in past years and will also take part in the game on Thursday.
“My favorite part of every year I have competed is seeing the joy it brings to other athletes. It makes me feel good seeing the enjoyment in their faces,” said Stolicker.
Stolicker said that throughout his years playing in the event he and other Ferris athletes have built relationships with the athletes of the Area 5 team.
“We see some of them around campus and always have conversations,” said Stolicker. “We have great relationships with them.”
Donations will be accepted throughout the event at donation tables and during the Miracle Minute. A hockey jersey signed by the entire Ferris State hockey team will also be auctioned off at the event. All proceeds will be donated to Area 5 to pay for anything they need, such as travel, event registration and equipment.
Ferris students and Big Rapids residents are encouraged to come to the game to cheer on their fellow Bulldogs and the athletes of the Area 5 Special Olympics in what is sure to be a great game. The game is set to begin at 7 p.m.