QC Comets Special Olympics team holds clothing drive

Organizers hope to fill this trailer with donations to a clothing fundraiser to benefit the Queen Creek Comets Special Olympics team. (Special to the Independent/Liz Hixon Johnson)

The Queen Creek Comets Special Olympics team is collecting bags of used clothing to help afford costs associated with its inaugural athletic season.

The clothing drive, which ends Sept. 19, will allow the team to buy much-needed uniforms and help some of the participants pay for athletic fees.

Special Olympics Arizona has offered to fund the team’s equipment, including but not limited to basketballs, softballs, relay batons and regulation bocce sets. The QC Comets are a community-based team meaning they have both minors and adult-aged athletes.

Liz Johnson, who helped start the team, has put a lot of work into the fundraising and beginning logistics of running a Special Olympics group locally.

“I would like for my team to have real uniforms and to look like a real team,” said Mrs. Johnson in a phone interview. “The last thing I want to do is let my athletes down.”

Right now the team has 15 athletes, two coaches and a few volunteers who help with the practices each week.

Grace Parker, a volunteer, is working to get her certification to be a coach.

“I think the (QC Comets) is a great organization,” said Mrs. Parker in a phone interview. “It brings me joy just to help out and give these athletes a chance and an opportunity to compete.”

Mrs. Parker hopes people throughout the community can dig through some of their old clothing to help give her athletes an equal opportunity at competing.

“If (the community) can donate, we can raise money since we are a new team and give our athletes a fighting chance against other more established organizations,” said Mrs. Parker. “This will give our team the opportunity to compete against teams of the same level and to be proud doing it.”

Queen Creek Special Olympian Carla Simon throws a bocce ball during her team’s bocce practice. (Special to the Independent/Liz Hixon Johnson)

The Comets will participate in bocce ball and bowling events during the fall and will also compete in other sports such as softball, basketball and track and field throughout the season.

The QC Comets team is in the Four Peaks region which is comprised of teams from Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Gilbert, Florence and Payson as well as the surrounding cities.

After region, athletes who’ve competed can go on to the state competition where they can qualify to participate in the national and world games.

Head coach and co-founder of the QC Comets, Jon Gilkey, said he is looking forward to the season and seeing his athletes have fun and meet new people.

“There is just a spirit about these athletes that I love,” said Mr. Gilkey. “They are always happy and have so much energy. They just go out to have fun and that’s something we’ve tried to stress as a team. It’s not just about winning or losing, but about having fun.”

Mrs. Johnson is hoping to gather 400 total 33-gallon bags to raise $1,000 for team uniforms.

Those who would like to donate can contact Mrs. Johnson by calling 480-200-1074..

For more information about the Comets, visit its Facebook page at QC Comets Special Olympics Team.

Editor’s note: Jamie Morris is a freelance writer for the Queen Creek Independent.

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