OKEECHOBEE — The Adopt an Athlete for Christmas project is underway again this year. The project was begun last year by Bernard Marker, who does a lot of volunteer work with Okeechobee’s special needs community.
Marker explained he set up Adopt an Athlete last year because the group was unable to have their usual Christmas party, and to most of these individuals, Christmas is one of the highlights of the year. They look forward to a visit from Santa, and many did not understand the connection between COVID-19 and their party. Marker wanted to be sure Santa would still drop off gifts even if there was no party.
Okeechobee did not disappoint, and the community flocked to the Adopt an Athlete Facebook page to choose an athlete or two to bless during the holidays last year. A tree was set up at Brown Cow Sweetery, and so many gifts were dropped off, you could barely see the tree by the time the athletes came in, one by one, to get their presents.
This year has been much the same for the special athletes. Many are older or have underlying health conditions and have not been able to spend much time together as a group. Marker decided to open the Adopt an Athlete Facebook page again and many athletes are waiting for adoption. If you are interested in adopting a special athlete for Christmas, you can go to the Facebook page and read all about them. Choose the one or ones you would like to adopt and then purchase a gift or gifts for them. Each athlete can be selected up to three times, but please choose someone who has not been chosen yet so all athletes are adopted. If you see three names in the comment section below the athlete’s picture, choose someone else to bless instead. If you would like to adopt an athlete but do not use the Internet or Facebook, you can call Marker at 863-801-3393. He would be glad to give you information on one of the athletes.
This year, the athletes will be meeting at Kahootz on Dec. 20 between 3 and 5 p.m. Kahootz will be closing to the public to allow the athletes time to receive gifts and enjoy refreshments. Kahootz is located behind Los Cocos, across the street from Country Cooler. Adopters can either come to the get-together or can contact Marker to arrange getting the gifts there.