Special Olympians hoop it up in tournament's new home

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by Joe Flanagan, 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on February 23, 2014 at 9:04 PM

Updated Sunday, Feb 23 at 9:20 PM

HAMPTON -- Like any Olympic competition, a torch run opened the one at Boo Williams Sportsplex Sunday.

The athletes: Special Olympians who hit the hardwood for the annual Tidewater Tip off Tournament.

For 12 years, Virginia Wesleyan College served as the home of the event. The generosity of a lot of people made it possible for Special Olympics was able to expand the tournament and change its location.

"Moving to this facility, it just kind of doubled our expenses," explained Brad Stevens, Southeast Regional Director for Special Olympics. "Especially Polar Plunge being right before this event. It has definitely helped us with this."

People who dove into the Atlantic in Virginia Beach, freezing for a bit during the Polar Plunge, warmed the hearts of people withe Special Olympics Virginia. In the process, they raised $1.1 million.

The Southeast and Peninsula Regions include some 15 cities and counties.  A few teams from Richmond made the trip to Hampton to compete.

"It is really intense when you play, but we play for fun, also. Yeah!" said an enthusiastic Julie Touhey of the Virginia Beach Lakers.

Boo Williams, who was at the sportsplex bearing his name, said, "I'll tell you what. They end up having a great competition, and it's great for the participants, and we love that."

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