No matter the sport, GFA is always there to help

SPECIAL OLYMPICS DONATION: Special Olympics Guam recently received donated softball equipment from Guam Football Association at the GFA National Training Center. Front row: from left, GFA Executive Director Cheri Stewart, Special Olympics Guam President and CEO Frank Florig, GFA President Tino San Gil, GFA Competitions Administrator Ashley Besagar, and GFA General Secretary Marvin "Ike" Iseke. Back row: from left: GFA Competitions Director Sam San Gil, GFA Executive Secretary Gianna Tenorio, and SOGU Chairman Camilo Lorenzo. Photo courtesy of GFA

Through a community donation drive earlier this year, Guam Football Association donated hundreds of bats, helmets, balls, gloves, cleats, and other essential equipment to Special Olympics Guam for its softball program.

“On behalf of the Special Olympics Guam board, and more so our athletes, I want to thank Guam Football Association for this tremendous donation,” said SOGU President and CEO Frank Florig. “I’ve always said that ‘Special Olympics is a program of the community, and without community support, there is no program.’

“The community makes Special Olympics.”

Thanks to the tireless work from our board members and volunteers, today’s organization is very well-structured to provide year-round sports for our athletes. Our chairman, Camilo Lorenzo, is always saying, ‘We can do better.’ Athletes’ parents, the local community, sponsors and federations like GFA, help make the program special, Florig added.

“GFA are soccer experts, but when GFA leaders learned that we needed softball equipment, they went right to work to organize a donation drive,” he added. “That’s unheard of! So, ‘thank you very much GFA.’”

Although donations of new or gently used equipment began pouring in on Feb. 15, a month before before Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero declared a public health emergency, only two weeks into theTriple J Auto Group Robbie Webber Youth Soccer League, GFA remained committed to helping SOGU.

“On behalf of GFA, I would like to thank GFA partners and the local community that came together to donate the sports equipment to Special Olympics Guam,” said GFA President Tino San Gil. “During a meeting about organizing the second season of Unified Soccer (an SOGU program that pairs able-body athletes together with those of varying disabilities), we also discussed challenges the organization had been facing, including the possible cancellation of the softball season due to a shortage of equipment, among others.

“We wanted to find ways to help and, through the donation drive, we were able to collect equipment for the Special Olympics' athletes. It was truly a community effort, and I’m happy that GFA was able to assist Special Olympics Guam in this way.

“We are always still open to accepting donations and sports equipment to donate to Special Olympics Guam.”

About three years ago, when softball was first introduced into Special Olympics Guam’s  sports programs, Florig recalled a moment when he noticed a few spectators in the stands who had crying.

“I thought, ‘Maybe their grandson or granddaughter got hurt,’” Florig said. “So, I went to them to find out. They told me that they never, ever thought they would see their grandchildren out on the field playing softball, and they were overcome with emotion watching them play.”

Fast forward to the early part of 2020, the Special Olympics Guam board members learned that the organization’s softball equipment had gone missing, and they had considered canceling softball.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has halted SOGU’s programs, once the health emergency improves, board members are looking forward to a full year of sports in 2021, 

“I’m very humbled that GFA supported us and organized to have the much-needed equipment donated,” said Camilo Lorenzo, SOGU chairman. “My message to the Special Olympics athletes and their families during this COVID-situation is that ‘We’re all a community. We’re all still here. Practice social distancing and keep your bodies, minds, and your spirits healthy.

“‘We’re going to get out of this. When we do get out of this, Special Olympics Guam will be there. We’re a community. We’re a family. And, we take care of each other.’”

Although SOGU traditionally runs its softball program in the fall, it will be paired with aquatics in the second-quarter of 2021, Florig said.

With plenty of time until SOGU softball takes to the diamond, the heartfelt organization urges the community to donate sports equipment or make a monetary donation to be used in support of any one of its six programs. SOGU’s lineup consists of aquatics, badminton, bowling, soccer, softball, and track and field.

To donate, contact SOGU at 648-7648 or message them on Facebook @specialolympicsguam. Donations are also accepted at the GFAs main office in Harmon.