In the past, Jacob DeBrock would shoot hoops by himself.

In the past, Jacob DeBrock would shoot hoops by himself.

Now that he has joined the Gahanna Special Olympics, he gets to play basketball on a team.

Although finding programs for her son was a difficult endeavor, Monica DeBrock of Reynoldsburg liked that the athletes involved in the Special Olympics could perform at levels at which they were comfortable. Now 14, Jacob, who has autism, participates in golf, track and basketball.

"It's amazing to see what they can do when given the opportunity," DeBrock said of the Special Olympics athletes.

From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 2, DeBrock and other volunteers will stake out the intersections at Morse and Hamilton roads; Agler and Stygler roads; and Granville Street and Hamilton Road for a fundraising project that's part of the Gahanna Special Olympics "Cash Drop" going on citywide.

Money donated by drivers at selected intersections will fund the GSO, for such expenses as uniforms, practice venues, equipment and entry fees, said local coordinator Jackie Komjati of Gahanna. The organization comprises only volunteers and is responsible for all of its own costs. Volunteers serve 50 to 60 families and run swimming, basketball, track, golf and bowling events at various times throughout the year.

"There's always something going on," Komjati said.

Before Komjati started the GSO in fall 2005, her 18-year-old daughter, Jessica, who has Down syndrome, had been participating in the Westerville Special Olympics. Though a Special Olympics had been held in the area, it remained inactive for quite a while, Komjati said. Her church congregation urged her to start one up again.

"It took off like a rocket from the beginning," Komjati said, adding that the organization continues to grow.

Jeff Hafer of Gahanna has been involved in the GSO since its inception in fall 2005 and said his 21-year-old daughter, Kelsey, has benefited from it.

"Without this her social or peer group would be much different," Hafer said.

He said Kelsey especially takes pride in participating in the skills-based basketball activities, which focus on dribbling, wall passes and shooting. By participating in the events, she gains confidence and learns to challenge herself instead of giving up, he said.

"You see her really begin to apply herself," Hafer said.

Hafer participated in the fundraiser last year and said he was impressed with the way people responded. Often individuals would hurry past the volunteers on the street only to turn around and contribute, he said.

"It demonstrates their commitment and their support on a local basis for projects like this," Hafer said.

Sonya Sponaugle of Reynoldsburg also volunteered last year and said many people stopped and contributed.

"We had an overwhelming response," she said.

Sponaugle has been involved with the GSO for at least five years with her 18-year-old son, Bryson, who is a participant.

"We do have a very close-knit group," Sponaugle said of the organization.

DeBrock said she is looking forward to the Oct. 2 fundraiser.

"Not only are we raising funds, but we're (also) raising awareness," she said.