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High campus turnout expected for Olympics

Becky Hogan | Friday, February 2, 2007

Tonight the Joyce Center will transform into an athletic center with a cause, hosting one of the most widely attended charity events of the year – Late Night Olympics.

This will be the 21st year that Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students gather to raise funds for the St. Joseph County Special Olympics. Students and participate in athletic events and raise money as a dorm-based, and last year nearly 1,200 participants raised approximately $8,300.

“Typically, the grand prize winner takes half of the money for their dorm. Last year, the MBA students won, but gave all right back to charity. This is the only time I have ever seen that during my time here,” Bill Regan, assistant director for instructional programs and special events at RecSports, said.

Annual turnout is expected to be similar to previous years, but Regan hopes the weather will not be a factor tonight.

“I hope the snow doesn’t deter people from coming out and having a good time,” he said.

Late Night Olympics consists of 17 events, ranging from 3-on-3 basketball to inner tube water polo. Each dorm is paired with a dorm of the opposite sex to compete for the grand prize.

“We have an event for everyone,” Regan said. “There are more competitive events as well as the more laid back, such as kayak races and target golf.”

Money is raised in five different ways for the event, starting with each participant’s required entry fee. Each dorm is required to give at least a $150 donation in order to be eligible for the grand prize. Other scheduled activities are Penny Wars throughout the night, which began Monday, a raffle and open skating.

Late Night Olympics is one of three major fundraisers sponsored by RecSports this year. Other events RecSports sponsors include the Domer Run in the fall for ovarian cancer, as well as a run in the spring to benefit the local Rebuilding Together initiative. Late Night Olympics, however, is the biggest event.

“We get such a great turnout because it is something fun and different to do,” Regan said.

With every dorm is planning to participate, Late Night Olympics officially starts today at 7 p.m., but begins gradually, Regan said.

“We start slow, but everything is in full swing by 9:30,” he said.

Events are generally designed to be self-officiated and those that are not will be refereed by a RecSports student worker.

Safety is also one of Regan’s top priorities this weekend.

“We want this to be a fun event.” he said. “We want kids to be smart, because we don’t like to throw people out.”

Students who appear to be intoxicated will be asked to leave.

“In the past, there hasn’t been anything drastic, but we just want to make this a fun night for everyone,” Regan said.

The signature event of the night will take place at 9:30 p.m. in the field house when beneficiaries from the Special Olympics play a game of basketball against rectors and staff members.

“People really seem to like this event. Students get a chance to see where their money is going,” Regan said.

Regan has high hopes for another successful year from an event that has become a growing tradition on campus.

“We would like to see out numbers up and encourage everyone to come out, even on this cold winter night,” he said.