Rockford Athletes with a Mission of Service

RHS crew members help special needs students experience fun on water

June 28, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CINDY M. CRANMER Working together to benefit special needs students was the goal of everyone involved in a recent activity on the Rogue River. About 40 Rockford High School (RHS) crew team members gave up part of their summer break to work with about 20 special needs students. RHS students have been giving back through the Rockford Athletes with a Mission of Service (R.A.M.S.) program. The Special Treasures group, which serves area special needs children, has been in existence for about three years. During the 2011-2012 year Special Treasures teamed up with the Special Education Parent Advisory Committee (SEPAC) in Rockford to put together athletic clinics for students with any type of special need. The most recent activity was in mid-June and involved coordinating efforts to get the special needs students on the Rogue River. Grace Smith—who has a son, Hayden, in the Special Treasures Group and a daughter, Eva, in crew—thought having a crew event would be fun, as the group has done various other sports such as cross country, volleyball, dance, basketball, bowling, soccer, tennis, track and baseball. “We all thought it would be a fun thing for the kids to do,” Smith said. However, crew team boats are expensive, so using them was not the best option. Melissa Sova, who has a stepson in the SEPAC group, was talking to a client of her salon, Xpress Clips in Rockford, about trying to make the event happen. The client, Mary Wiseman, had the answer. Wiseman, owner of AAA Canoes for the past five years, donated the use of 17 canoes, nine kayaks, and life jackets, and provided eight staff members to make the activity a reality. Each student was in a canoe with two crew team members. There also were lifeguards and spotters mixed in among the group. Grace and Eva Smith both said the event was “exciting” and “a great thing for everyone involved.” “I thought it would be a good way to give back to the community,” said Tori Porter, a sophomore. “We get to introduce kids to a sport that can be a lifelong pastime,” said Justin Adsitt, another crew team member. Wiseman and Sova coordinated the pickup of students in downtown Rockford and the drop-off at 12 Mile […]

Rockford bowling scores big with Special Treasures

February 9, 2012 // 0 Comments

Most days at practice, the Rockford High School boys varsity bowling team is focused on improving their bowling scores. However, on January 19, they put their own practice aside to improve the lives of some very special kids by sponsoring a bowling clinic for the kids with special abilities. The experience of laughter, fun and newfound friendship was shared by all participating. After some bowling demonstration from the varsity players, it was time for the clinic participants to have a chance to show their bowling skills, with the varsity players there to help and support them all the way. The interaction amongst the players and kids was a wonderful sight to see. The smiles, high fives, hugs and even a little dancing on the floor showed the pure excitement of the day. All accomplishments big and small were celebrated. The Rockford Sports Clinics for kids with special abilities are sponsored by Rockford Special Education Parent Advisory Committee (SEPAC), Rockford Athletes with a Mission of Service (R.A.M.S.), and Special Treasures Parent Group. The mission of Special Treasures is to enrich the lives of children with special needs by providing education, resources and support while giving a hope for brighter tomorrows. Thanks to the generosity of Coach Bellgraph and the Rockford boys varsity bowling team, a brighter day was given to all. A thank-you also goes to Cory of Rockford Lanes for supporting the clinic. For more information regarding future sports clinics, please contact Amy Kelley at

Hoopsters with heart volunteer time for kids

January 27, 2011 // 0 Comments

by MELISSA UTTER  Our Ram basketball players are ferocious on the court. Don’t tell the opposing teams this secret, though: those Ram players are softies with hearts of pure gold. Special Treasures is a group of parents and caregivers of children who have physical, cognitive, social and medical differences. This group meets once per month to support, educate, encourage and share resources with other parents who have children with “diff-abilities.” Special Treasures’ children received the gift of time from both the girls and the boys basketball teams over Christmas break. Tom Carlson, who guides Rockford Athletes with a Mission of Service (RAMS), along with Amy Kelley, one of the founders of the Special Treasures group, coordinated a two-day basketball clinic. The clinic was free to the participants, as all of the athletes and coaches generously gave of their time to enrich the lives of these children. The first day involved the girls basketball team, and the second afternoon was reserved for the boys team to serve this special population. Varsity players were poised and patient with the Special Treasures children. The atmosphere was charged with enthusiasm. It was obvious that the children were star struck with the wonderful abilities of the players. A three-point shootout, two-handed dribbling demonstration and slam dunk exhibition had the children cheering. The Special Treasures children were able to participate in a skills clinic that allowed them to play at individual levels that best fit their development. Rockford players then signed t-shirts and autograph pages for the Special Treasures kids. The basketball teams’ fan base grew quite a bit those two afternoons. Parents were so grateful for the opportunity for their children to participate in a sports clinic where competition was not stressed, but camaraderie was king. There are few athletic opportunities for children with special needs. The Special Treasures group is working to change that. Partnerships in the past to provide athletic opportunities included archery at the Rockford Sportsman’s Club and Wolverine baseball and now the recent partnership with RAMS and Rockford athletics. Generous donations of time and talents make these opportunities possible for children who are not able to typically participate in regular athletics. The group has expressed an interest in exposing the Special Treasures children to a variety […]