AUBURN, Mass. — The Massachusetts Special Olympics basketball tournament will return to Auburn High School this year, and Auburn Recreation and Culture is looking to fill the stands with fans for the two-day event.
"The fans in the stands mean a lot to the athletes, to have people supporting you and cheering for you," Auburn recreation director Kristen Pappas said. "It does a lot for the memories we're trying to create."
Originally set at the Auburn Middle School, the event was recently moved to the larger venue of the high school, where it was held the past four years.
Town Manager Julie Jacobson and Auburn School Superintendent Maryellen Brunelle helped to bring the event to the school, according to Pappas.
This will be fifth year Auburn Recreation and Culture has sponsored the tournament. Although some volunteers are needed, Pappas hopes the community will come out in droves to support the athletes as fans.
"It's a really great feeling to give back to the community, and be a part of something like the Special Olympics, which is such a successful organization that has helped people with disabilities. You feel lucky to be part of it."
Pappas said the feeling is incomparable when she sees an athlete score a basket and run into the stands to hug their mom.
Opening ceremonies will be held at noon Saturday and Sunday, with a color guard from the Auburn American Legion and Auburn students performing the National Anthem. Guest speakers will include state Sen. Michael Moore, state Rep. Paul Frost, Jacobson and Brunelle.
In addition to the games, there will also be activities for the athletes in the cafeteria. The Auburn Webster Lodge of Elks will serve a hot lunch for athletes, coaches and volunteers.
The tournament will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 9 and 10 at Auburn High School, 99 Main St.
To volunteer and receive a Special Olympics volunteer T-shirt, residents can register at the Special Olympics website.