The Muscatine YMCA will hold their annual Special Olympics basketball game on Monday, February 12 at 7 p.m. at the Muscatine Community YMCA.

This event, which has been going on for over 25 years, brings in the Muscatine Fire Department to play a scrimmage with the Special Olympic basketball team. The annual event started in the early 90s when the YMCA basketball teams were looking to have a scrimmage at practice to help them get ready for competition. The staff reached out to the Fire Department, and the rest is history. New this year, the Muscatine Police Department will also be involved in the game, playing against the Special Olympic athletes.

Special Olympics’ ability to create and sustain an inclusive community relies on the engagement and partnerships with individuals, families, businesses, and other organizations. A great example of this is competing against our local fire department and law enforcement in basketball, flag football, and softball. This special relationship is so important in establishing and maintaining social inclusion and breaking down social barriers in our community. Plus, we’re having lots of fun!” says Jason Miller, the Special Olympics Director at the YMCA.

Miller describes Special Olympics as a program whose mission is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

“We are an organization determined to change the mindset of the people we serve that they can be successful in both the sporting world and in life. We empower the people we serve to realize their full potential and develop skills through sports training and competition,” says Miller.

The game will take place in two 20-minute halves. In the past few years the event has attracted over 100 spectators supporting the Special Olympic athletes. The game is free and open to the public. There will be raffle prizes, baked goods, and T-shirts for sale. At halftime the raffle prize winners will be announced. Spectators can get baked goods in return for a free-will donation and can purchase T-shirts to support the program.

The event is only as successful as the support of the community makes it! Without the volunteers and support of the community, police department, and fire department, this event wouldn’t be possible.