Volunteers needed for 2008 DARE Olympics

After a four-year hiatus, the DARE Olympics are back on the calendar of events in Madison County.

Lt. Teena Gallagher of the Madison County Sheriff’s Office recently announced that the 11th DARE Olympics will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 10, 2008, at St. Patrick School in London.

The family-friendly event features a wide variety of activities for children from throughout the county. The offerings will include three-on-three basketball, a soccer shootout, obstacle course, football throw, 50-yard dash, bicycle races, jump rope contest, poster-drawing contest and much more. As has been the tradition, the last event of the day will be a tug-o-war.

“We like to offer something for every-body for whatever age or ability they’re at,” Gallagher said.

With that goal in mind, Gallagher is rallying the volunteer troops now. Positions are available for high school students, adults and senior citizens. Help is needed for set-up the two days prior to the event and for tear-down the night of the event. On the day of the Olympics, volunteers are needed to work the registration tent and run each activity; this could involve running stopwatches, measuring distances, making sure children know and follow the rules, and recording the results.

A large corps of volunteers is integral to the Olympics’ success, according to Gallagher, who said an insufficient number of volunteers and decreased funding are the reasons she stopped putting on the event four years ago.

“The number of kids participating in the Olympics was increasing, but the number of volunteers was decreasing,” she said.

Gallagher helped to establish the DARE program in Madison County 19 years ago. For the first 15 years, the Madison County court system provided $2,000 to $3,000 annually through its Detention of Youth Services program to help fund DARE education. Each participating school also kicked in $2,000 to $3,000 annually. The combined total was enough to cover the educational sessions and, once established, the Olympics.

When school districts lost their Drug-Free Schools funding five years ago, Detention of Youth Services picked up the slack so that the DARE program could continue as it always had, with the exception of the Olympics.

Earlier this month, the Madison County DARE program celebrated its 100th graduation. With the milestone came a renewed interest in all aspects of DARE, including the Olympics.

Gallagher decided to resurrect the event at the urging of Dr. Jacob Froning, principal at St. Patrick School.

“Dr. Froning encouraged me to bring the Olympics back because he said it was an awesome thing, not just for the school but for the community as a whole,” she said.

Gallagher knew the challenge would require a concentrated effort to recruit volunteers. She also knew it would require a request for additional funding. When she applied for DARE funding from Detention of Youth Services this year, she requested a grant large enough to include the Olympics. She got her wish.

Anyone interested in volunteering to help put on the 2008 Madison County DARE Olympics may leave a message for Lt. Teena Gallagher at 740-845-1813.

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