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Ready, set, get wet for Area 32 Special Olympics

Carmen Musick • Jul 18, 2017 at 5:45 PM

Updated on Wednesday, July 19 to add additional information about the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Department’s child identification kit booth and the number of food/craft vendors that have been added to the day’s festivities.

You've heard of the tomato wars in Grainger County and the egg fights in Peters Hollow. Now, brace yourself for the next big thing in community combat.

It's the Community Water Balloon Fight for Area 32 Special Olympics and it's going to be epic.

Billed as a community event for all ages, the festivities will take place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, July 22, at Surgoinsville's Riverfront Park and will include water balloon fights, a water balloon volleyball tournament, the Drop a Cop dunking booth, live music, face painting, 22 food and craft vendors and more. The Hawkins County Sheriff’s Department will also be on hand with child identification kits.

All of the proceeds from the event benefit Hawkins County's Area 32 Special Olympics.

"Everything we're doing is for Hawkins County Area 32 Special Olympics. We're not state-funded. We're not school-funded. We rely on fundraising and donations for everything," said event organizer Christina Bellamy, who also serves as a volunteer, coach and unified partner.

Special Olympics is dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences. Unified Sports joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.

"None of our athletes ever have to pay for anything. We go out of town to compete a few times each year and no athlete ever has to pay for transportation, lodging or food. They don't pay for uniforms or equipment. We provide everything and the only thing that keeps us afloat is fundraising," Bellamy explained.

It was at one of those events that Bellamy was first introduced to water balloon volleyball - a fun activity-turned-tournament that will serve as one of the fundraising tools at Saturday's event.

Teams of four players will do battle in the water balloon volleyball tournament until only one team is left standing. The entry fee for each team is $20. The concept is simple: teammates volley a water balloon back and forth across the net using towels to catch and pitch it. Teams will compete throughout the day on Saturday until only one team is left standing. The winning team will pocket $50 cash.

The Community Water Balloon Fight (with a smaller area for little kids) will cost $1 per round with new battles taking place throughout the day. Continuing the water theme throughout the event, some of Hawkins County's finest will volunteer their time to sit on the hot seat in the Drop a Cop dunk tank to raise money for the Special Olympians. The cost will be $1 for three balls.

"There has been a tremendous amount of community support helping us put this together. The Town of Surgoinsville has been amazing, and so many people are stepping up to help us," Bellamy said.

Area 32 Special Olympics will offer face painting and will be selling hot dogs, nachos and drinks. Plus, there'll be craft and food vendors including Pig & Chick, Fat Daddy Food Company, LaAbejita (ice cream only), Callie's Cool Cabana and Delicious Designs Cupcakes.

Live music gets under way at 1 p.m. and features The Sluss Family from 1 to 2 p.m., The Lewis Family from 2 to 4 p.m. and the Kevin Buttry Band from 4 to 6 p.m.

Admission to the fun-filled community event is free - and all of the proceeds from the day's events go to Area 32 Special Olympics.

"Everyone associated with Area 32 Special Olympics - including area director Christy Thacker - volunteers their services. All the money we raise goes directly to the athletes because there is no administration cost," Bellamy stressed. "We have some amazing businesses who donate during the year, but fundraising is the only way our athletes can compete. We hope folks will come out and support them at this fun community event."

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