(Walnut, CA) Just over four years ago Jermey Schmidt, who is a volunteer at the Service Center for Independent Life (SCIL), came up with an idea to start a disability fair.
Jermey attended a similar event in San Bernardino and approached college officials about starting something at Mt. SAC. Four years later, the Mt. SAC Disability Athletics Faire is a huge success. The recent event included a multitude of activities on the Walnut campus.
One of the founders of the event, Larry Grabel and his staff at SCIL and in collaboration with the community, have contributed to the growth each of the four years.
The event was put on by SCIL, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities.
Activities included Bocce Ball, Kayaking, Martial Arts, Yoga, Soccer, Skateboarding, Baseball, Dance, Basketball, Tennis, Golf and a Rockwall.
The event has grown from 100 participants the first year to over 400 this year and the number of volunteering Mt. SAC student-athletes has grown also.
This year 50 student-athletes participated in the Fair and Mt. SAC Athletics Director Joe Jennum noticed the passion they expressed in the event.
"One thing that is special for our student-athletes being involved in the Fair," Jennum said. "is seeing those young men and women particpants giving there best in the activities. For some it may be an experience for the very first time but to see their eyes light up and giving 100% in the activities, it is life changing. "
"Schedules are always a challenge with teams in season, but I'd like to see some more of our sports have an opportunity to get involved. It really is something special. For our students being there and volunteering, in some way they can gain some level of appreciation for giving back and being a part of something bigger."
This year former Dodger pitcher Dennis Powell was the guest of honor, participating in various activities throughout the day.
Former water polo players participated in the pool at the Marie T. Mills Aquatics Center helping with the kayaking and the entire women's soccer team set up goals so the participants can take shots on the net and members of other sports also joined in with the event.
A big hit was the 21 members of the football team and their practice equipment.
James Henry, a sophomore middle linebacker, is the football representative for the on-campus organization, Student Athlete Advisory Council (S.A.A.C.), who arranged for volunteers from the team and opened up an activity for the particpants.
"We grabbed equipment from the storage bin and brought out the tackling pads and yard markers and everyone started joining the activity," Henry said. "We got overwhelmed at one point with so many participants."
"The kids started hitting the pads and having a blast and even some of the adults participated. The football team had a lot of fun in that atmosphere."
Henry added that the "...highlight was connecting with the community. Some of the attendees may have never had the opportunity to participate in sports."
"We did something great today."
Photo's from the day: https://photos.app.goo.gl/nrMeYbLxoqZ7eaww5
For additional information, please contact the Mt. SAC Sports Information Office at 909.274.4630.