EATON — The Preble County Cougars remain undefeated champs against the Preble County Generals.
The 16th annual benefit basketball game between the two teams was held on Saturday, Feb. 29. The Cougars kept their title as champions as they, once again, beat the Generals — this year 93-22.
Not only was the day fun for all, but it also served to raise awareness for the Preble County Board of Developmental Disabilities and its clients.
The Preble County Cougars team is made up of DD players of all ages and abilities. The Cougars compete throughout the year against other Special Olympics teams in the region.
The Preble County Generals team is made up of local “celebrities,” this year including: Board President of HIT Foundation Mary Bullen, CAP Director Janelle Carson, Eaton High School Principal Scott Couch, Preble County Commissioner Rodney Creech, Preble County Commissioner Chris Day, Eaton Assistant City Manager Joe Ferriell, Eaton Chief of Police Steve Hurd, Preble County Assistant Prosecutor Eric Marit, Preble County Sheriff’s Office Major Brad Moore, Eaton Superintendent Jeff Parker, Preble County Commissioner Denise Robertson, Eaton Lieutenant David Sizemore, and Preble County Sheriff Michael Simpson.
Stephanie Garrett served as the emcee and Ron Deaton served as the referee.
The Register-Herald’s Editor Eddie Mowen Jr. served as Cougar coach for the event, with Chuck Hart and Tim Lane also serving as coaches. The Cougars roster included: Brendon Baldwin, Kathryn Bishop, Alex Day, Austin Gabbard, Brooks Henning, Ryan Hines, Sidney Hoskins, Adam Jackson, Kimberly Jackson, Jasmine Sutton, and Kenny Witham. Skills Team included: Maxwell Butts, Jason Gabbard, Nat Miller, and Paul Weist.
Cougars Cheerleaders included: Ellissa Baron, Elizabeth Bresher, Kali Drewry, Debbie Heaberlin, Shelby Hoskins, Sarah Kottke, Lela Lyninger, Heather Nichols, and Margie Reckers. Shelley Gray served as coach with Jodi Long as Assistant Coach.
Heather Nichols sung the National Anthem.
According to Special Olympics Coordinator Regina Fullmer, the event is held annually to highlight Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, which is March. She believes this is a great opportunity for people to see how capable Special Olympians really are.
“This brings awareness to the community about what Special Olympians are capable of doing. This shows the community they are capable of a lot of things – many people put them in a box, but they can do a lot more than people think they can. We need to include them more in our community,” she said. “[The Special Olympians] love this event, they look forward to it every year.”
She added turnout increased significantly this year, though they did not have official numbers. Fullmer thanked everyone who had a part in the day and those who attended.
“This event brings the community together with the DD world,” she said. “[The officials donating their time] shows they support us. The Commissioners have been more than fantastic, anything I’ve asked them to do, they’ve supported us. It’s awesome to see the crowd, I love it, and I would love to see more of it.”
During the event, awards for Most Improved Player and Cheerleader of the Year were also awarded. Kimberly Jackson was awarded Most Improved Player and Lela Lyninger was awarded Cheerleader of the Year.
Basketball is Player Ryan Hines’ favorite sport to play and he has participated in the annual Cougars versus Generals game for two and a half years.
“Basketball is an energetic sport. This is a fun game, because we all get together,” he said.
He added, he was most looking forward to beating Rodney Creech during the game.
Cheerleader Elizabeth Bresher enjoys cheering because it gives her an opportunity to “be loud.”
“I just love cheerleading and being loud and doing all my cheers,” she said.
She looks forward to the annual charity game and continuously wining against The Generals.
“I think we’re going to kick their butts the whole day,” she said. “We come out and have a good time.”
In addition to the game there was also 50/50 raffle sale, a Skills Team demonstration, presentation by Cougar Cheerleaders, and three point line challenge. All money raised from the event goes to pay for all expenses of the game, so it does not cost Preble County Developmental Disabilities (DD) money to host.
Eaton High School Freshman Kendall Miller won the 50/50 raffle, but she donated her portion of $252.50 back to Special Olympics.
Special Olympics in Preble County is completely funded by donations and completely run by volunteers. They are always looking for volunteers to help with activities. The next big event will be the annual Track & Field Event to be held on May 9, at Twin Valley South Football field. They are looking for as many volunteers as possible.
Volunteers can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to P.O. Box 273, Eaton, OH 45320.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH