Competition — Oregon Mayors Bocce Cup designed to raise awareness for Special Olympics

Despite sweltering heat, spirits remained high at the Oregon Mayors Bocce Cup Friday at the Austin Sports Complex. Thirteen mayor teams from the area and several non-mayor teams gathered for the two hour competition in its second year.

“The impetus behind it was as Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR) we serve the largest disability population in the state,” said David Warner, marketing director. “Our thought was how to educate more people on that and also showcase Newberg.”by: GARY ALLEN - Special Olympics - Dundee Mayor Ted Crawford competed in the Oregon Mayors Bocce Cup Friday alongside 12 other mayor teams to  support the Special Olympics. Crawford was eliminated in the first round after scoring six points in the three-game round robin format.

Crafted by Newberg Mayor Bob Andrews and SOOR CEO Margaret Hunt, they chose a sport that’s not only popular with SOOR athletes but easy to learn.

“It’s a great sport no matter what your inclination of sports is. It’s a very popular sport for our athletes both young and old can play. I think last year our oldest athlete was 79 years old. It’s low impact, you’re not running around a track, not out there cracking a softball,” Warner said. “Plus it gives you a chance to mix and mingle and that’s what we wanted the mayor and our partners to do, talk with our athletes and see what they can do.”

More often than not, he said, the SOOR athletes are overlooked, made fun of and ostracized.

“This gives people a chance to interact and see what they can do instead of what they can’t do,” he said. “This is a great opportunity.”

The event also provides an opportunity for friendly competition between Oregon mayors, although for many, it’s their first time playing the sport.

“I did it last year too and did better last year,” said Dundee Mayor Ted Crawford. “I’m getting killed out there. We scored a total of six points in three games, that’s how bad we were.”

The story was similar for other teams, including Tigard Mayor John Cook.

“(I’ve) never played before,” Cook said. “It curves, it bounces, it never goes where you tell it to. It’s fun (though). Having never done it before, it seems like a good sport.”

Eventually, there can be only one winner who earns bragging rights for the year. This year Mayor Scott Burge from Scappoose and his partner Mike Neish took home the trophy and title as top mayor. Warner said at the end of the day, he hopes the mayors take home what they learned about SOOR as well.

“It’s an opportunity to bring mayors here, introduce them to our constituency in hopes they will get better acquainted with them then return to their cities and spread the word of who we serve,” Warner said. “In return their awareness could help us grow too. We serve 12,000 participants but there’s thousands and thousands of more participants out there that can benefit from our program.”

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