Special Olympics Collier County summer camp brings kids together

Reporter: Taylor Petras Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:

The Special Olympics’ Camp Shriver has wrapped up a second year of bringing students and athletes together in Collier County.

Gaga ball—like dodgeball, except the ball stays on the ground—is just one of the activities Special Olympic athletes and their new friends took part in.

Abigail Konopik was one of the 30 Special Olympic athletes who participated.

“It’s really fun and gets me out of the house and off my electronics,” Abigail said.

For one week, Konopik was teamed up with Grace Cunningham, a sophomore at the Community School of Naples.

“I just felt like it’s really rewarding after you go home; you’re tired, but you get the sense of, ‘I’ve done something good today,'” Grace said.

Their new friendship may not have happened without Camp Shriver, which was started to foster such connections.

A Special Olympics athlete celebrates after a goal during soccer at Camp Shriver. Credit: WINK News

“There’s no sense of competition; we’re cheering each other on,” said Michael Carpentier, director of Camp Shriver. “Everybody leaves with massive smiles on their faces, and inevitably this year we had so many campers—or high school students, I should say—who had heard about how awesome Camp Shriver is that we had to turn people away.”

After some time in the sun and a break for water and snacks, the fun continued inside with volleyball.

“I love the community … and to meet other new fun friends,” said Special Olympics athlete Ian Angiuoli.

Ian and his partner Mason Dubbs, from the Community School of Naples, now have a new special handshake to show off their friendship.

“He’s awesome, I love him,” Mason said. “He’s got a great personality. He uplifts me every day. It’s definitely hard coming in at 7 a.m., but once you get here, it’s like a party.”

The first week of camp was for younger Special Olympics athletes. The money to put on Camp Shriver comes from the Naples Winter Wine Festival held annually by the Naples Children and Education Foundation.

WINK News’ partners at Gulfshore Life are proud sponsors of the annual charity wine auction.

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