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Fun and games at Raymond Biegel Memorial Tournament aids Special Olympics

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MEDINA TWP. — Bill and Kellie Biegel were never lucky enough to have children of their own, but they have adopted about 300 kids through Special Olympics.

The fifth annual Raymond Biegel Memorial Tournament is set for 9 a.m. until dark Saturday, May 11, at Blakslee Field, 3718 Weymouth Road.

This event is designed to raise funds and awareness for Special Olympics Ohio Medina County, a nonprofit organization that gives athletes with developmental disabilities the opportunity to participate in sporting events.

The Medina County organization offers 18 sports to about 350 athletes with developmental disabilities.

“This is a lot of fun for us,” Bill Biegel said.

There will be 12 teams in the tournament. The night before, about 60 Special Olympians are drafted on teams, with each including five or six Special Olympians.

The Medina County Board of Developmental Disabilities sponsors the Special Olympics through in-kind services. Fundraisers, though, are needed to handle the actual operating expenses.

Money raised May 11 will go toward accommodations, food, tournament registration fees and other expenses.

Bill Biegel said the Special Olympics’ uniforms used to be “terrible.” He wanted to upgrade their uniforms and hotel accommodations when they went on the road for the state tournament.

“I thought they were funded by the government,” he said.

He found out that was not the case. Bill Biegel, a plumber in Medina, got behind the fundraising activities and the softball tournament was born.

He said he hopes it’s as successful this year as it was last year, when it raised $53,000 despite getting rained out about halfway through.

Among the raffle items are four Ohio State University football tickets, which include a chauffer ride to and from Columbus in a recreational vehicle.

Also up for grabs are Browns, Cavaliers and Indians tickets, golf packages and a bathroom remodel kit from Cleveland Plumbing Supply.

A live auction will start about 12:30 p.m., and those not playing softball can take part in a 50/50 raffle, listen to music from a DJ and play cornhole. Food also will be for sale.

If it rains during the event, the fundraiser will move inside the Achievement Center, 4691 Windfall Road, Granger Township, where there will be volleyball and cornhole tournaments plus other activities.

“We do have a backup plan,” Bill Biegel said.

This year’s tournament will be played in honor of the late Kay Gaishauser, a longtime Special Olympics supporter who recently died with cancer. Her daughter, Rachel, competes in Special Olympics.

For those interested in supporting the event or Special Olympics, call team captain Bill Biegel at (330) 421-4456 or event organizer Kellie Biegel at (330) 416-2573. The email address is biegelsplumbing@zoominternet.net.

There are three corporate sponsorships available, including gold level ($1,000-plus), silver level ($750-$999) and bronze ($500-$749).

For $200 and $100, people can symbolically adopt a Special Olympics athlete and get a sweatshirt or T-shirt, respectively. Any amount people wish to donate is appreciated, Bill Biegel said.

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or by email at rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.
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