By Emma Finn
On April 12 Sammons Financial Group will help host the 4th annual Young Athletes Play Day at Ankeny Centennial High School in Ankeny. Young Athletes Play Days are designed to provide activities and socialization opportunities for children with and without intellectual disabilities between the ages of two and seven.
Play Days give children who are too young to participate in formal Special Olympics events an opportunity to compete and engage in Olympic activities. It is an event that helps promote inclusion and acceptance at a young age.
Sammons Financial Group has been a Statewide Partner with Special Olympics Iowa (SOIA) for 10 years. This year, 50 volunteers from Sammons are scheduled to help out at the event. They do everything from helping put lunches together to handing out awards to participants.
“We have a lot of repeat offenders, once they volunteer at this event they become hooked,” says Mary Buscher, a Human Resources Manager for Sammons and a long-time SOIA volunteer.
Buscher explained how unique this event is because it is giving athletes at a young age the opportunity to compete, while also giving children with and without intellectual disabilities the opportunity to interact.
“The joy and acceptance the children have with each other is truly something. There is else nothing like this event,” says Buscher.
Buscher also explained how strong the relationship between SOIA and Sammons is. The company does not make their employees who volunteer at the Play Day to take any vacation time in order to participate.
Festivities for the Play Day begin at 9:00 a.m. The event is expected to have between 400 to 500 kids participate. This Ankeny Play Day is just one of the multiple events that Sammons Financial Group sponsors and volunteers at throughout the year.