Kent County News
December 6, 2019
A longstanding but largely unsung collaboration between a local youth swimming group, Special Olympics athletes and Washington College’s swimming program is getting its moment in the spotlight this month in a most unlikely arena — at M&T Bank Stadium during the Baltimore Ravens game Dec. 12.
Shoremen Aquatics youth swim team volunteer club, which coaches Special Olympics swimmers at the college’s Casey Swim Center, has won two awards this year. The Governor’s Service Award recognizes Marylanders for significant volunteer contributions and their efforts to change Maryland for the better. The Ravens Honor Rows Award salutes youth groups that provide outstanding service to communities.
“Over the last two years, about 50 Shoremen youth volunteers gave of their time, talents and hearts to coach an average of 14 athletes for the 12 weeks of swim season,” said Bonnie Brady, a coach with the Bridges Athletic Club, which provides a variety of athletic opportunities for Special Olympics athletes. “The Shoremen and Bridges athletes continually inspire each other to challenge themselves, to learn new things, to eliminate biases and prejudices, to have hope when the obstacles seem unsurmountable, to take risks, and to be the best human beings they can be.”
As part of the Ravens Honor Rows Award, the Sho’men youth volunteers were given free tickets to the Dec. 12 NFL game against the New York Jets, where they will be honored in person.
A crew from WBAL-TV visited the Casey Swim Center in November to film the students and talk with them about their devotion to this program, which WC Aquatics Director Kim Lessard says is an example of how the local community and college work together to create opportunities for a wide variety of people beyond the campus.
“It’s a great program,” Lessard said. “The college provides the facility for a nominal charge, with a lifeguard. WC swim team members volunteer, and the youth Shoremen volunteers to coach the athletes. It’s a real neat mix of people.”