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Regatta Chair Auction to benefit Special Olympics

WORTHINGTON -- The Globe's 16th annual Regatta Chair Auction, set for 6 p.m. Saturday on the Sailboard Beach stage, will raise funds for a very special cause -- the Worthington Warriors Special Olympics team.

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The Worthington Warriors Special Olympics team poses for a photo after their competition recently in Redwood Falls. (Special to The Globe)

WORTHINGTON - The Globe’s 16th annual Regatta Chair Auction, set for 6 p.m. Saturday on the Sailboard Beach stage, will raise funds for a very special cause - the Worthington Warriors Special Olympics team.

Fresh off its regional contest, all 37 members of the local Special Olympics team have earned the opportunity to compete in the 2019 Special Olympics Minnesota Summer Games, scheduled for June 21-23 at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. Funds raised from the auction - as well as donations collected during the People’s Choice judging of the chairs - will help cover the costs for the athletes to compete.

Ten local businesses are once again sponsoring an Adirondack-style wooden chair for the auction, with local artists volunteering their time to create original designs.

“I’m really excited for everyone to see the chairs - they are gorgeous,” said Roberta Fultz, The Globe’s advertising manager. “We’ve got some outstanding local artists who’ve come together for this project.”

One of the chairs sports the Special Olympics logo and motto, while another boasts the Minnesota Vikings logo. There is also a serene scene of a lake a trees, and an ornately decorated chair using gems and gold leaf.

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“They artists get to take it where they like - they aren’t given any direction,” Fultz said.

The Globe is hoping to raise at least $5,000 - the amount raised during last year’s auction to support Flags of Freedom - to help the local Special Olympians.

“Special Olympics has expanded this year from a fairly small group to a growing community organization,” Fultz said. “We thought they could use the funds to continue growing.”

Amy Roesner of Worthington spearheads the Worthington Warriors delegation. When she took on the role last August, the team had 13 members. It has since grown to 37 members and eight volunteer coaches.

Each season, the team comprised of youths ages 8 through adults focuses on a different sport - bowling in the fall, powerlifting and swimming in the winter, track and field in the spring and softball in the summer. Team members are ages 8 and older (although younger kids are eligible to participate in practices) and hail from Worthington, Fulda and Windom.

Since Worthington Warriors organized four years ago, team members have always qualified for both the summer and winter games, Roesner said.

The Summer Games on the St. Thomas University campus is fashioned after the Olympics, with numerous events for teams and individuals to compete in. During the event, team members and their coaches stay in the dorms on campus.

In addition to the competition, though, Roesner said the summer games offer so much more for the athletes. Stations are set up to provide free medical care to each athlete, from getting their eyes tested and choosing free prescription glasses and sports goggles to having their hearing tested, getting a dental checkup and participating in Fit Feet, a program that provides free insoles.

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“That’s a huge benefit for a lot of our athletes,” Roesner said, adding that the medical checks are included in each athlete’s $20 registration fee. “A lot of times, that’s the only time our athletes get those checks.”

Roesner said the Worthington Warriors strives to make Special Olympics a free event for all of its athletes who want to participate. That’s why being selected to be the recipient of the Regatta Chair Auction donations is so appreciated.

“I was beyond thrilled,” Roesner said after learning Special Olympics was chosen to receive the funds. “To be selected for such a generous fundraiser - to not have to worry about how to get the athletes to the event or have to select which athletes we can afford to take - this will be a huge benefit for us.”

Funds raised will help cover the costs of room and board for the athletes, their registration fee and transportation to and from the Summer Games.

“We have been very lucky in our community that we have huge community support,” Roesner said, adding that her heart is in Special Olympics and the teammates who compete alongside her son have become her family.

“I care deeply about all of them,” she said. “Their accomplishments are a huge deal.”

Sponsors and artists who have graciously financed a chair or gave of their time to decorate one include: Avera Medical Group-Worthington, artist Beverly Anderson; Client Community Services Inc., artist Kelly Henkels, Fulda Area Credit Union, artist Jessica Zuniga; Java Nau, artist Sue Nau; Lampert Lumber, artist Lisa Severance; Merck, artist Clint Meyer; Nobles County Art Center, artists Susan and Tim Middagh; Education Minnesota Worthington 7291, AOK Art Club; Round Lake Vineyard & Winery, artist Linda Reasonover; and the Worthington V.F.W., artist Muriel Kuehl.

The Globe launched the annual chair auction in 2004. Past recipients of the “chair”ity have included Sunset Hospice Cottage, Freedom Shore Park and Veterans Memorial, United Way of Nobles County, Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota, Love INC of Nobles County, the Nobles County Historical Society, Client Community Services, Inc. and Flags of Freedom.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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