In its first competition, four members of the Dublin Special Olympics qualified for state competition.

In its first competition, four members of the Dublin Special Olympics qualified for state competition.

The Dublin Special Olympics team was started in September and organizer Krista Keir said response from the community has been strong in both support and athletes.

"The response from the Dublin community has been absolutely amazing," Keir said.

"We have lots and lots of coaches and youth volunteers. Every week I get emails from people who have heard about the program and want to be involved," she said.

Ten athletes got involved in the swimming program that began in the fall. The November swim competition was the first for the program, but everyone participated, Keir said.

"We have 10 athletes on the team, four who competed in developmental races," she said.

"They swam half laps with a coach in the pool with them.

It's almost like an exhibition, but it was good for the athletes to get that experience," Keir said.

"I wanted all athletes to have an opportunity to compete. The other six were in traditional events and four qualified for the state meet."

Along with four athletes heading to the state swimming meet Dec. 15 and 16, Dublin's Special Olympics basketball program is rolling.

For basketball more than 20 athletes have signed up, so a group of athletes ages 13 and over meets on Tuesday while ages 8 to 12 meet Thursday. A motor-activity training program is also held on Thursday nights.

"I want our program to be much more inclusive," Keir said. "I strongly believe in the benefits for individuals that participate in Special Olympics.

"We don't have a basketball team just yet, just skills (training). Hopefully in the next year we'll have a team, but there will always be basketball skills."

The athletes will get a chance to show off their basketball skills Jan 29 during the half time of a Dublin Coffman High School girl's basketball game, Keir said.

Along with athletes, volunteers have also come to the new Dublin program.

Keir said the swimming program had seven coaches and more than 10 have been recruited for basketball. A group from Leadership Dublin has also been helping the new organization.

"I have been very, very lucky in responses," Keir said.

"One of the swim coaches that works at Metro Fitness said 'Let me know what other sports you're offering. I want to be involved in other sports.'

"They're very excited and they want to help with the program," Keir said.

Dublin Special Olympics has also seen monetary support from the community.

"We did really well on the cash drop," Keir said. "We got $3,600.

"We also received a grant from the Country Club at Muirfield Foundation and from the Dublin A.M. Rotary."

Although practices are under way, Keir said the group is still accepting both athletes and volunteers.

"We're still trying to reach out to athletes in the schools and adults," she said, noting that Special Olympics is open to ages 8 and older.

"The oldest (adult) we have is 21." Keir said.

"I know there a lot of adults in the area already connected to a program. If they aren't and they don't want to travel to Hilliard or Columbus, Dublin does offer a program."

The Dublin Special Olympics will provide bowling and track and field in the spring and a softball skills program in the summer.

A 5K fundraiser to kick off the track season is slated for March 5 at Coffman High School.

For more information, or to get involved, contact Keir at 614-760-6006. or keir_krista@