Phelps Luck has personal stake in fund-raiser

NEIGHBORS

July 11, 2000|By Pamela Woolford | Pamela Woolford,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

EACH YEAR, teams from Columbia Neighborhood Swim League sponsor individual fund-raisers for charity. For the Phelps Luck team, the event is more than altruistic. It's personal.

Bob Baker, father of Kimberly, 12, a swim team member, is director of Special Olympics Howard County, which has its headquarters on Rumsey Road. And, Kimberly's sister, Stephanie, 16, is a member of the Special Olympics Howard County Aquatics Team.

Stephanie, a Long Reach High School student, was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Prader-Willi Syndrome, which causes mental impairments, when she was 8.

For two years, the Phelps Luck swim team has raised money for Special Olympics Howard County with an all-night swim-a-thon.

"We were trying to pick out a charity that was related to the community," said Debra Flentje, team co-manager with Diana Macenna.

This year's event, which was held over the weekend at the Phelps Luck neighborhood pool, raised about $2,700 in donations, and Flentje expects that figure to go to $4,000 or $5,000 when pledges are collected.

More than 100 swim team members ages 5 to 17 swam laps in sessions. More than 80 stayed the night, swimming in sessions from 8 p.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Sunday. During their down time, team members played volleyball, listened to music, watched movies, played card games, or napped in nearby tents.

Members of the Phelps Luck swim team and the Special Olympics team, who range in age from 8 to the late 20s, met at the pool at 7 p.m. for a pre-swim feast of hot dogs, watermelon, snow balls, snacks and food donated by Wings to Go on Center Park Drive. The two swim teams enjoyed water games such as inner-tube races and relays.

Before they left at 10 p.m., each member of the Special Olympics team received gold medals for participation and presented the Phelps Luck team with a gift, a new folding table the Phelps Luck team will use to sell concessions at Columbia Neighborhood Swim League meets.

Several Phelps Luck swim team members had participated in Special Olympics swim practices from March through June in which they were partnered with members of the Special Olympics Howard County Aquatics Team. Phelps Luck members coached aquatics team members, helping with strokes and dives.

"At the end of the first practice, four athletes were diving that never dove before," Bob Baker said.

Participants formed relay teams in which half of a team's members represented the swim league and half were from the Special Olympics team. The teams competed against similar unified teams from other counties.

Andrew Flentje, Debra Flentje's son, who will be a sixth-grader at Patapsco Middle School this fall, participated in the program as a member of the Phelps Luck swim team and coached one student who had a fear of diving. "My 11-year-old son was teaching this 17-year-old to dive," Debra Flentje said, "and [my son] said `Pretend like you're Superman.' And he did it."

"I was very impressed," Andrew said of his experience with the program. "It was fun," he said. "One kid [from the Special Olympics team] beat me very badly in a 25-meter race."

At the swim-a-thon, coaches and swimmers wore commemorative T-shirts with the Phelps Luck team logo, a backstroke swimmer. The shirts were printed with the in-kind sponsorship of Digcom, a cellular telephone store on Hickory Ridge Road, and FCNB bank.

Special Olympics is an international, nonprofit, year-round sports program for mentally challenged children and adults. The Howard County chapter is run by volunteers and uses donations to purchase equipment and uniforms and pay for administration costs, sports facility rental fees and travel expenses.

To make a contribution, send a check to Special Olympics Howard County, 9150 Rumsey Road, Suite B3, Columbia 21045.

Lake Elkhorn concerts

The four community associations representing east Columbia -- Kings Contrivance, Oakland Mills, Owen Brown and Long Reach -- are sponsoring the Lake Elkhorn concert series this month.

The free concerts are held at 7 p.m. each Wednesday next to the spillway on Broken Land Parkway.

Last week, Joe Carta and the Cruisers performed rock 'n' roll. Carta will be back July 19 with Joe Carta and the Blue Grass Cats.

"He's been popular since we first had him here," said Sue Parker, covenant adviser for the Long Reach association. "They play popular music, and they do it well."

Jay Smar will perform country music tomorrow, and Gary Brown will close out the series July 26 with more rock 'n' roll.

In inclement weather, the concerts will be held at the Lake Elkhorn pavilion, next to the lawn site.

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