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Berg Middle School receives grant for Special Olympics teams

Published: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 10:23 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 11:13 a.m. CDT
(Submitted Photo)
Berg Middle School Special Olympics athletes are pictured at last year's state basketball tournament in Iowa City. California Casualty presented the school's Special Olympics teams with a $1,000 grant last week.

Seventy-nine public schools in 33 states received a total of $83,000 from California Casualty last week in the form of athletic grants. One of those schools was right here in Newton.

Berg Middle School’s Special Olympics teams were the beneficiaries of a $1,000 Thomas R. Brown Athletics Grant.

There are 18 Berg students in Special Olympics this year, and the number is expected to increase next year, said Special Olympics coach and special education teacher JoEllen Linn. The grant will help students who participate in the program for years to come, she said.

“Special Olympics is very important to our athletes because it gives them a chance to participate in bowling, basketball and track,” Linn said. “It allows them a chance to represent themselves, their school and their family.”

Since the grant’s creation in 2011, more than $580,000 has been awarded to 500 athletic programs across the nation, according to California Casualty.

“California Casualty has been supporting educators for more than 65 years, and we understand the correlation between participation in sports and higher performance in the classroom,” said Senior Vice President Doug Goldberg.

Berg Principal Lisa Sharp said the school is excited and grateful for the grant that will support Special Olympics athletes.

“They work hard and this will help pay for practices, some equipment, transportation and possibly some team shirts,” Sharp said.

Special Olympics coach and physical education teacher Ashley Kaher said it’s important for everyone to have a chance to participate in extra curricular activities. The Special Olympics, she said, gives students the opportunity to succeed and win a gold medal.

Linn said Berg’s Special Olympics teams get entire families involved. One Berg student participated in the state basketball competition last year. The athlete’s parents, grandparents, siblings and cousins all attended the event in Iowa City.

“The mom had tears in her eyes when he was awarded the state overall champion gold medal, and dad bragged about how they finally had a state champion in the family for basketball,” Linn said.

Berg will have an official presentation of the grant on May 25 at an academic assembly in front of the entire school body.

Iowa schools with an unmet need can try for next year’s grants. Applications for the 2017-2018 California Casualty Thomas R. Brown Athletics Grants are now being taken at www.calcasathleticsgrant.com. The deadline for consideration is Jan. 15, 2018.

Contact Justin Jagler at 641-792-3121 ext 6532 or jjagler@newtondailynews.com

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