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Olympians need help

There are many ways for Suffolkians to get involved with the local Special Olympics programs – and many of them don’t even seem like work.

Locals can come out to support the Olympians in the Suffolk Christmas Parade, to be held the evening of Dec. 3. They can come help out at the Olympics swimming program, which starts Jan. 8 at the Suffolk YMCA. They can simply take a dip at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront Feb. 4 at the Polar Plunge, which has raised millions for Special Olympics across the state for years (and last year brought in over $1,500 for the Suffolk program). In late April or early May, local motorcyclists can take part in the Poker Run rally.

Because right now, the program needs some help. Though the most successful swimming season in Special Olympics history concluded last year, the bowling program over the winter was cancelled for lack of funding, and basketball and volleyball teams folded.

&uot;So far, we’ve been helped by other areas of Hampton Roads,&uot; said Mike Clark, who started the Special Olympics program in early 2004 at a Board meeting Monday evening at King’s Fork Middle School. &uot;Come January, we’re on our own.&uot;

Franklin High student Daniel Childress announced his plan to start a track and field team this spring.

&uot;I had to do a senior project, and I thought, ‘Why not do something good for the community?’&uot; he said. &uot;Franklin used to have (a Special Olympics) team, but it hasn’t been around for a while. I’ll probably start the team in March.&uot;

Board member Jill Mayes, herself an Olympian, couldn’t wait for the parade.

&uot;I love it,&uot; she said. &uot;I get a chance to see my coaches and friends. Christmas is my favorite time of the year.&uot;