An upcoming golf tournament will go to help Deer Park Special Olympians.
On March 9, the Deer Park Fireballs will host their third annual golf tournament, sponsored by Mayor Wayne Riddle at the Battleground at Deer Park Golf Course. Tee time is at 9 a.m.
Founded in 2004, the Fireballs are the city's Special Olympics group for adults
After Jeremy Fox graduated from Deer Park High School, his family learned opportunities for him when it came to sports and activities were very few in the city.
"Once Jeremy graduated and there wasn't much for him," said his mother Mary Ann Fox. "Jeremy likes to do things. He likes to play sports and we found there were a few other families who faced the same problem."
Those families wanted to stay in Deer Park and those families wanted their special needs children to be able to continue participating in sports and socializing with their friends.
Thus, the Fireballs were born.
Almost a decade later, the group has grown from a handful to more than 50 athletes and a horde of parents, volunteers and other supporters who work to ensure athletes can practice and attend events safely, travel and have uniforms, and adequate accommodations specific to their needs.
This labor of love becomes expensive, Fox said.
Overnight hotel and motel stays alone can be pricey, Fox said. She said a recent four-night stay in Austin cost almost $8,000 for 26 rooms.
"Not all of that comes from the organization. Some of it is split between the families and the Fireballs. That's why we need these fundraisers like the golf tournament. We don't want to tell anyone they can't go because of money. We always try to find a way."
Members of the team have traveled to Beijing for international competition. The team is hoping to be selected to participate in the national games in 2014 which will be in New Jersey.
Fundraisers like this third annual golf tournament offset the costs of travel, accommodations, food, entry fees and the other costs associated with helping the athletes and their families with as little out-of-pocket expenses for the families as possible.
Although the Fireballs were founded with post-high school participants in mind, the program offers some sports not offered at DPHS. On those occasions, Fox said, they open their participation to those students if they want to play.
The tournament is $100 per player, with two mulligans, the monster drive contest and closest to the pin.