Kids, dogs and athletes rally together for S.O.

Special Olympics supporters from Portland to The Dalles showed up in numbers last Saturday for the second-annual Step-Up for Special Olympics fundraiser.

Aside from a steady arctic breeze, the weather cooperated for the 100-plus athletes and friends who made the trek to the old scenic highway (Mark O. Hatfield State Park) on the east end of Hood River.

Even a few four-legged supporters jumped at the chance to lend a paw to the Mid Columbia chapter, which is currently involved in swimming and bowling, and will soon start skiing and basketball.

Saturday’s event started with a 5K/10K run/walk, continued with Kids on Wheels, and concluded with the Doggie Dash. Cocker spaniels, bull mastiffs, Newfoundlands and even a chihuahua all helped do their part to support this valuable community organization.

“We were really pleased with the dog turnout, but we had hoped for a few more runners and walkers,” coordinator Carole Schmidt said. “But overall, it was good to see so many individuals and organizations get involved.”

More than 15 local sponsors donated money and supplies to the Step-Up event, which helped raise money for Special Olympics training programs, uniforms, transportation, as well as travel and hotel costs for qualifiers and state competitions.

Saturday’s Gold Sponsors ($200 and more) were Kerr-McGee Foundation Corporation of The Dalles, which contributed $350, and Glenn Taylor Real Estate, which donated $250. Silver Sponsors ($100) were Columbia River Bank, Brown Roofing and Siding, Betz Construction, Sprint, and the ARC of the Mid Columbia, an association that provides opportunities for people with developmental disabilities.

In addition, Fruit Loop Pears contributed numerous boxes of pears while Gorge Dog donated plenty of dog bones to ensure that all participants left the park satisfied.

Schmidt said plans for next year’s Step-Up event are already in the works. For more information on the Mid Columbia chapter of the Special Olympics, please call 541-478-3716.

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Special Olympics bowlers from Hood River and The Dalles will square off this Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at Orchard Lanes.

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