Wine and suds will flow, and raffle prize opportunities will abound when the Upper Arlington Special Olympics program hosts its annual "Sip of UA" April 25.
For the third time in as many years, UA Special Olympics is inviting community members to sample a variety of fine wines, craft beers and specialty foods, all in the name of raising money to support Upper Arlington and Grandview-area Special Olympics athletes.
This year's event will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, April 25, at St. Agatha Catholic Church, 1860 Northam Road, Upper Arlington.
It is open to anyone.
"It's a wine- and beer-tasting benefitting the Upper Arlington Special Olympics," said Jill Hess, Sip of UA co-coordinator. "It's a donation format for the cost, but it is a suggested donation of $35 per person."
Proceeds from the event finance year-round training for UA Special Olympics athletes as well as necessities such as uniforms, equipment, facilities rentals and referees.
Hess said the fundraiser is essential to the local program, since the number of athletes and the programs UA Special Olympics offers have grown exponentially in recent years.
"Upper Arlington Special Olympics is offered for no charge to any of our athletes," she said. "This is one of our main fundraisers and this is how we pay for our programming.
"Right now, we have over 60 athletes. Maybe 15 years ago, we had about 20, and our programs have really grown. We only had three or four sports before, and now we have close to 10."
Most of the wine and craft beers featured at Sip of UA will be provided by Heidelberg Distributing; Huffman's Market has donated food for the event.
Each person who attends also will receive one raffle ticket upon admission, and Hess said there will be chances to purchase more tickets for various prizes.
Among the giveaways will be a 10-person package for luxury suite tickets to a Columbus Clippers game that includes food and parking; wine baskets; and garden art pieces handcrafted by UA Special Olympics athletes.
"The art items were just a huge hit last year and the year before," Hess said. "With the wine baskets, we're going to split it into six packages of two bottles of really nice wine."
In addition to the food and spirits, Hess noted that this year's Sip of UA will be headlined by Tim Laber, a longtime UA Special Olympics athlete and recent Ohio State University graduate.
"He is going to speak about his experiences in the Special Olympics and what the Special Olympics means to him," Hess said. "It's great for our kids athleticswise and healthwise, but it's also the social aspect.
"These are our kids' friends and this fills out much of their social interactions."
In addition to online reservations, donations for admission to Sip of UA will be accepted at the door on the night of the event.