''No, you won't see it on ESPN sports tonight and it won't be on the cover of Sports Illustrated next week, but when it was announced in the gym to the 25 other Special Olympics athletes and their high school buddies and we stopped to give Ursula a standing ovation, probably her only one in 40 years, and she smiled shyly and proudly, the beauty of that simple ordinary moment reached down and lifted the dreams of everyone there..." wrote Alan Someck in a poem called Two Points, Ursula had just scored (complete text on editorial page).
Moments like this have kept the athletes and their volunteer ''buddies'' on a high ever since Mr. Someck began the Great Neck Games Special Olympics for mentally challenged athletes, four years ago.
On May 23 everyone is invited to see these very special athletes in action at Great Neck North High School from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The day includes an Olympic Torch Run from South High to North High, demonstrations of basketball skills, competitive games, music for dancing provided by the Squeaky Clean band, food, lunch and T-shirts and raffle prizes for the athletes, all donated by local businesses.
''We are all volunteers,'' said Amy Serwitz. '' Almost everything is donated, even the gym and, this year, the New York Islanders have given us Islander hats and bags for all the athletes.
For the past three years, Ms. Serwitz has been writing for the nonprofit Special Olympics program, photographing and pitching in wherever needed. ''I could not believe what fun it's been. They (the mentally challenged athletes) are very genuine ...very appreciative...There are no airs about them. They have a lot to teach us...They are wonderful people...I love them...''
Ms. Serwitz pointed out that the athletes and volunteers meet Fridays from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. throughout the year. ''It gives them an opportunity to be with people like themselves as well as people like us...'' Each athlete is paired with a buddy, mostly high school students to hone their athletic skills. ''Friendships are formed...'' she said.
''It has been one, if not the most, rewarding experiences of my life,'' said Ed Fernbach, who became a volunteer after reading a story about the program in this paper. ''I've volunteered as a coach since 1984 when my children were growing up...but this experience is much more rewarding. I get more back from it than I put in...''
The experience was so moving that Mr. Fernbach thought his 17-year-old daughter, who is a student at the Village School, would be interested. ''Samantha did not know about the frailties of life...A Great Neck teenager, she had seen little suffering...She was awe-struck by what she saw¬the courage with which these people face each day despite how difficult it may be for them...''
Samantha joined her father as a regular volunteer for the mentally challenged in the sports program every Friday evening.
''We found these people are no less valid, no less human than you or I...there is not that much difference between us...'' Mr. Fernbach said.
''The other day Samantha ran into one of the people from the sports program at the bagel place...They were so happy to see each other they were hugging and there were tears of joy...
''I intend to be a volunteer permanently¬year in and year out...'' he said.
Two coaches, Joan Grunebaum, from North High, and Jon Folber, from Kennedy, also give their time to oversee the program. ''They are both very dedicated to the athletes progress in sports skills...,'' Ms. Serwitz said. ''And when extra help is needed, they use a hands on approach and are demonstrative in their approach. They give of themselves from the heart and the athletes have responded very positively and comfortably.''
Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded Special Olympics International, which is the largest sports organization in the world. The Great Neck Games are authorized by Nassau County Special Olympics.
For more information, call Alan Someck evenings at 487-1692, or days, at Millie's Place restaurant (where he is the general manager) at 482-4223.
The following businesses have contributed to the Great Neck Games Special Olympics: New York Islanders, Neil's, Pancho's Border Grill, Princeton Ski Shops, The Annex Shoppe, The Athlete's Foot, La Belle, All Pro Frame, Phil's Manhasset Sports, Squire Movie Theater, Marvin and Sons, Surprise, Arena Sport and The Art of the Game.