Marshfield, WI (OnFocus) A friendly competition returns when Marshfield Police Department faces off against the Special Olympics basketball athletes for the sixth year running on April 19.
“This event has become our biggest fundraiser of the year,” said Randy Follen, agency manager for the Marshfield Area Special Olympics. “As a non-profit organization, the money raised from this event will pay for practice facilities for the athletes.”
Since athletes continually travel to various competitions throughout the year, funds also pay for entry fees and transportation. Some of the sports offered to athletes are bowling, basketball (both skills and team), powerlifting, swimming, track, softball, bocce ball, and flag football.
The idea for a basketball game against local police officers began six years ago when Follen approached Officer Jamie Kizer with the idea.
“The game all started with my son, who is an athlete. He started working for the PD as a parking patrolman,” said Follen. “When he started there, it gave me the contacts I needed to get the ball rolling and that was Jamie Kizer. He has been one great guy to work with.”
Kizer has enjoyed the chance to give back and show appreciation for the work the organization does.
“The relationship I’ve been able to develop with the Follens has been great. It’s exposed me to a lot of different experiences with Special Olympics,” he said. “It’s really cool just the looks on the faces on the athletes when people show up to watch them do what they do. It’s amazing the reaction that we get. I think the people that show up recognize that too and have a great appreciation for it.”
The Special Olympic athletes come fresh off the basketball season, where they competed to be the best in their division. With stiff competition, the A-team ended with a record of 1-6. The B-team lost the regional game but ended with a 4-2 record. The C-team did best overall, taking 1st place at regionals and advancing to sectional. There they lost two good games and ended the season with a 5-3 record.
Unfortunately the officers don’t have nearly as much practice in by the time the game rolls around.
“We have some that like to trash talk and think that they’re good, until we get on the floor and [the athletes] wipe the floor with us,” said Kizer. “Police officers aren’t the most coordinated individuals on the Earth, but we try.”
The athletes take the game seriously and are determined to play their best against the officers.
“Make no mistake about it. They may seem docile and kind, but when they suit up and they start dribbling the ball around, they really want to kick our tails,” said Kizer. “If you watch the basketball game, it shows. They really want to beat us!”
Ultimately, the fun of the game outweighs performance.
“It doesn’t matter that they beat us every year. We’re just happy to be out there participating so they have somebody to play against, and they just love kicking our butts,” said Kizer. “And that’s fine with us.”
Watch the Special Olympics Vs. Marshfield Police Department basketball game starting 7 p.m. at Marshfield High School. Admission is free but donations are appreciated. Concessions, raffle and door prizes are available. All proceeds go directly to Marshfield Area Special Olympics.