Sep 19, 2013, 12:11 PM EDT
James Madison University student-athletes from football, cheerleading and men’s and women’s basketball recently took part in the eighth annual “Day with the Dukes” event, where they interacted with Virginia Special Olympic athletes from across the state.
This past Saturday, various student-athletes as well as JMU coaches interacted with the Special Olympic athletes on the JMU campus. Highlights included running through the blow up Duke Dog tunnel into Biridgeforth Stadium/Zane Showker Field, where they also were greeted by the school’s Marching Royal Dukes, and working on drills such as passing footballs and even kicking field goals with the football team.
“It is always a great experience working with the Special Olympics group because they love getting to spend some time with us just as much as we enjoy our time with them,” redshirt junior RB Jauan Latney said. “It makes you feel warm inside knowing that you are making their day.”
After meeting with the Dukes’ football squad, the athletes met up with JMU’s cheerleaders to help with the spirit rally and then joined men’s and women’s JMU basketball players for many different basketball drills.
“It means a lot to be able to give back to the community,” women’s basketball senior Kirby Burkholder said. “All of the people here love sports and love to be able to interact with the athletes. It’s a great feeling and we know they love it too.”
Day with the Dukes began in 2007 after former psychology peer advisor and men’s tennis player Jesse Tarr had the idea to pair JMU student-athletes with Special Olympic athletes for advisement and one-on-one interaction. The annual event is a partnership between JMU athletics and the psychology department, while the Psychology Service Organization recruits volunteers to serve as buddies to the Special Olympic athletes.
Click here to check out photos from the event.
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