Michael Becker, a structural engineer by profession, volunteers as Director of Operations for Douglas County Special Olympics. He also serves as lead coordinator for basketball, track & field, golf, and bowling competitions. He got involved “through marriage.” His wife and his sister-in-law recruited him to start coaching in 2013.
The mission of Douglas County Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities in the Douglas County area.
Special Olympics grew when Eunice Kennedy Shriver focused the attention of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundationon on individuals with special needs. In 1968, the first Special Olympics event took place involving teams from the United States and Canada in 200 events. Now, more that 5.3 million athletes compete from more than 170 countries.
The Douglas County Jayhawks has 97 athletes on its active roster. Ranging in age from 15-56, they participate in 18 different competitions or events, eight of which were newly-established in 2019. All of the programs are run by volunteers; they devoted 6,500 hours last year. There are regional and state level tournaments for each sport. The Young Athletes program teaches children 2-7 years old to share, take turns, follow directions, and maintain healthy habits.
The group conducts various fundraisers during the year and welcomes help from the community. Becker encourages anyone interested to get involved!