SIDNEY — It was a challenge Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart was happy to accept.
“We were challenged by the Special Olympics basketball team to a game,” said Lenhart. “We were happy to accept the challenge.”
The two teams will tip off Wednesday, Jan. 23, at Christian Academy School, 2151 W. Russell Road. The doors open at 6 p.m. with the game starting at 6:30 p.m. Admission to the game is free.
“The deputies are already working out and the Vegas odds have it 1,000 to 1 that the Special Olympics team will win,” said Lenhart.
Mark Harrod, Shelby County Special Olympics, said he has thought about this game for years.
“I have friends in the sheriff’s office,” said Harrod. “I think we’ll fill the gym.”
Harrod said he had called both Lenhart and Chief Deputy Jim Frye about the game.
“I saw the sheriff at the community Christmas dinner and ‘challenged’ him to the game,” said Harrod. “Some of our athletes were there and they picked on the sheriff for a little bit about the game.”
The Sheriff’s Office team will be led by Frye, who will serve as team captain.
“”I saw him try to dunk it recently,” said Lenhart. “I think he’s almost there.”
Lt. Cori Steiner will pull out her pom poms from her cheerleading days to cheer for the deputies, said Lenhart.
“There’s also a rumor that one of the (male) deputies will be dressing up as a cheerleader,” said Lenhart.
Lenhart and Shelby County Commissioners Julie Ehemann and Tony Bornhorst will serve as referees for the game. Jackson Center High School volleyball coach Kim Metz will be the game’s announcer. Dane Nagel will be singing the National Anthem. Pastor Jim Oates will give the innovation.
“It’s gonna be a lot of fun,” said Harrod.
Lenhart said he recalls a game from a few years ago in which the Special Olympics team played a team of local athletes.
“I remember when the Jackson Center girls basketball team came home with a state championship,” said Lenhart. “The girls then played the Special Olympics team, who defeated them 120 -27. Every out-of-bounds ball went to the Special Olympics team. There were no violations called on the Special Olympics team.”
Lenhart said he is looking forward to the game.
“This is a fun thing to participate in,” said Lenhart. “It’s great to recognize the men and women who have special needs.”
A concession stand, manned by Christian Academy School volunteers, will be open during the game.
“This game is our way of giving back to the community for all the support they have given us through the years,” said Harrod.
In case of inclement weather, the make-up date for the game is Feb. 20.
Reach thewriter at 937-538-4822.