Volunteers of the Week

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 20, 2006

A Family Affair

Volunteering at Special Olympics

a Sanders family tradition

By Cassandra Mickens

The Selma Times-Journal

Eleven-year-old Wyatt Sanders had one of the most important tasks at this year’s Cahaba Center Special Olympics Basketball Classic – manning the scoreboard.

Wyatt’s 15-year-old brother, Bryan, is a few feet away.

With a whistle held steady in his mouth, Bryan is officiating the early morning court action and doesn’t hesitate to call a foul when he sees one.

Bryan and Wyatt are the sons of Lynn Sanders, an employee at Cahaba’s Mental Health Early Intervention program. They’ve been Special Olympics volunteers for five years.

Lynn didn’t have to nudge her sons to volunteer. They wanted to on their own.

“Third grade was my first year to start volunteering and ever since then I liked to do it,” Wyatt said, still keeping a close eye on the game.

Added Bryan, “I like sports and I just like to volunteer. To me, it’s a good experience.”

Bryan and Wyatt are both students at Central Christian Academy.

The Sanders brothers were two of seven Central Christian Academy students who volunteered to run the clock, keep up the scoreboard and referee the games.

The Wallace Community College Selma baseball team and basketball teams also lent a helping hand.

“They’re big job today is to cheer (the players) on and given them a high five when they need it,” Lynn said.

Lynn said volunteering for the Special Olympics not only enriches her and son’s lives, but the community as well.

She said most people don’t realize the number of special needs persons in the area and encourages residents let go of the “fear stigma” they have towards special needs persons.

“We would love to have more people at these Special Olympics to cheer (players) on,” Lynn said.

The next Special Olympics event is scheduled for March 21 in Selma’s Memorial Stadium. The public is welcome. Cahaba Center mental retardation director Lafon Barlow said volunteers are still needed to help run the events.

Those interested may call Barlow at 418-6543 ext. 122.