With finals beginning next week, most Baylor Law students are in the study zone, but approximately 50 students took time off Saturday, April 9, to help some special folks have fun. Thanks to the initiative of student Bobby Kaufman, who is in his third quarter, Baylor Law ran the softball throw at the Special Olympics Heart of Texas Region Track and Field meet at Baylor University's Hart-Patterson Track. The 50 students were joined by Baylor Law Dean Brad Toben and Beth Toben and also by Baylor Law Assistant Professor Luke Meier and his wife, Kelly.
"The softball throw is run like the shot put at a track and field meet and is the most popular event for participants," Kaufman said. "Baylor Law's primary task was to set up the event, explain the rules to the competitors, and mark and retrieve the thrown balls. We also helped with the 4x100 meter relay. Most importantly, we were cheerleaders for all the competitors, and they stay all day because they love it so much."
"There was in the air among our Baylor contingent a sense of joy at watching the competitors come to the line in the softball toss and throw the ball with all their might," Toben added. "Sometimes it was only a matter of a few feet, sometimes much further, but always to sustained applause and encouragement from our law students. The competitors were indeed joyful - a joy matched by our students in being a part as all day volunteers. Our Baylor Law students fill us with pride in their service endeavors."
Kaufman became interested in Special Olympics by accident. He was working out at one of Baylor University's gyms and saw a number of school buses outside the building.
"I looked around the gym and found out that the Special Olympics basketball competition was taking place. It was very moving to watch, and I decided that I wanted to become involved," he said.
Kaufman contacted Special Olympics and then started up rounding up volunteers. He emailed his classmates who emailed others.
"It wasn't difficult at all to recruit volunteers. In fact, we almost had a surplus of help," he said.
Kaufman hopes Baylor Law students will continue involvement with Special Olympics. The Heart of Texas area provides year-round sports trainings and competitions for 1,075 children and adults with intellectual disabilities from the following counties: Bell, Bosque, Coryell, Falls, Freestone, Hamilton, Hill, Lampasas, Limestone, McLennan, Mills and Navarro. Area sports offered are athletics, basketball, bocce, bowling, equestrian, golf, softball and tennis.