This is a group photo from the Heart to Heart Hand in Hand Special Olympics Basketball Game for Area 5 Special Olympics in April. Dean Transportation's $500 donation helped make the overall effort and game possible.
In April, Ferris State University’s Sports Careers Registered Student Organization, hosted its 9thannual Heart to Heart Hand in Hand Special Olympics Basketball Game for Area 5 Special Olympians. To help make the event successful, Dean Transportation donated $500 toward the effort.
Kellie P. Dean, president and CEO Dean Transportation, announced his organization’s donation in a letter addressed to Sandy Alspach, a Ferris professor of Communication and advisor to the Sports Careers student organization. The $500 donation was encouraged by Dean Transportation Director of Training Fred Doelker, who also serves on the Communication Program Advisory Board. Dean, during his time attending Michigan State University, endured a life-changing experience that helped bring him to Special Olympics – then in its infancy.
Today, 35 years later, Dean sees Michigan as a leader in providing sports programming for people with disabilities through the Special Olympics.
“In my young years as a teacher of special education, I coordinated all levels of special needs sports, including fundraising,” Dean said. “As a young person, I can’t think of anything that was more personally valuable to me than to have had a chance to become a part of the Special Olympics programming and I believe that this experience will benefit students as they develop their careers in sports communication.”
Having Dean and Dean Transportation associated with the event was important, according to Alspach.
“This is my second experience working with the Area 5 Special Olympics people, and I was thrilled to be able to share our activity with Mr. Dean at Dean’s Transportation through our Communication Advisory Board member Fred Doelker who works for the company,” she said.
In 2013, the Sports Careers student organization adopted the event as part of its commitment to philanthropy. The event is managed by students and begins with marketing efforts early in the semester.
The annual event includes a basketball game that features Ferris men’s and women’s basketball team members mixing with the Area 5 Special Olympians to play a game in front of family, friends and community members. Previously, teams have been coached by members of the Ferris coaching staff and community members.
Students solicit items for and manage a silent auction, accept donations at the door and run a 50/50 raffle for which proceeds benefit Area 5 Special Olympics. Students helped raise more than $300 during the 2013 event. The Sports Careers students participated in many aspects of the game-day experience, including organizing fan participation events and announcing the action.
“This event is one that the Special Olympians look forward to participating in every year; even though the event is not held until April each year, our athletes are constantly asking if it is all set even while they’re in their other sports seasons prior to basketball,” said Patricia Rosales, director of Special Olympics Area 5. “They really love interacting with the Ferris athletes and getting to show off their basketball skills to everyone in attendance.”
Added Rosales, “The donation was a very big surprise and the money was used toward our area expenses such as registration fees, transportation and uniforms for the State Summer Games at Central Michigan University May 29-31. We are looking forward to continuing this event with the Sports Careers students and working with them to have Ferris certified as a Special Olympics college. We are thankful for all of the support given to our area by Ferris over the years.”
Alspach thanked Rosales and Jennifer Sevarns, fundraising chair, who brought the Special Olympics basketball players to Ferris and got the word out to the Special Olympics Area 5 supporters. She also thanked the Ferris State University Athletics Department and, particularly, men’s basketball team head coach Andy Bronkema, men’s assistant basketball coach Jim Lake and women’s assistant basketball coach Shea Mead. The coaches brought their teams to play in the game, coached and assisted with game site management.
“We look forward to extending our commitment to Special Olympics,” Alspach said. “The Sports Careers RSO will be working with SOMI Area 5 to build a “unified team” to compete at the Homecoming Kickball Tournament in Fall 2014. Through the Sports Leadership Institute, our next goal is to form an SO College RSO at Ferris, to stand alongside our neighbors Central Michigan University and Grand Valley State University in the effort to celebrate sports as a place where everyone can play in America”
Dean Transportation, formerly Special Transportation, was established in the early 1950’s by Eric Christensen. Christensen transported individuals affected by polio to Lansing area schools throughout the 1950’s and the early 1960’s. In 1960 Special Transportation was incorporated by Lyle Stephens, a former Michigan State Police Motor Carrier Lieutenant and leader in passenger safety.
In 1986, Dean joined Stephens, leaving his position, of 14 years, in the Lansing School District. In 1991, Special Transportation changed its name to Dean Transportation, Inc. prior to Stephens’s retirement in 1995.