More than 50 athletes from Walworth County Special Olympics, ranging in age from 8 to 70 years old, danced to upbeat Latin rhythms at the Geneva Lakes Family YMCA the evening of August 25.
This Zumba party marked the end of the summer session of Special Olympics Y Nights, a free, four-week, volunteer-led program designed specifically for individuals with special needs.
Participants met at the Y every Monday evening in August, and had the opportunity to learn new skills, socialize with their peers and participate in healthy activities like swimming, yoga, basketball and fitness dance.
Special Olympics Y Nights started 13 years ago as the brainchild of Betty Aguirre, a Lake Geneva resident who started the Walworth County Special Olympics program 27 years ago.
“When we started Walworth County Special Olympics, I had just seven participants on my roster. Today, I have 155 athletes from all over the county, and that number continues to grow,” Aguirre said. “The need for active, social programming for special needs children and adults is tremendous.” Aguirre noted that while Walworth County Special Olympics is governed by Wisconsin Special Olympics, the program receives no funding from the state governing body.
The local program solely depends on the generosity of service clubs, organizations and individuals. The YMCA’s Annual Campaign helps offset the cost of Y Nights and facility use throughout the year.
“We’re so grateful to the YMCA for welcoming us and allowing us to use their facility without charge as our community home base,” Aguirre said. “We couldn’t do what we do without their support.”
Walworth County Special Olympics is currently seeking volunteers to assist with its fall and winter sports programs. If you are interested, please contact Betty Aguirre at 262.248.3034 or the YMCA at 262.248.6211.