Charity spotlight: Champion Athletes of the Ozarks

Colson Saner and his friend have been greatly supported by Champion Athletes of the Ozarks.
Colson Saner and his friend have been greatly supported by Champion Athletes of the Ozarks.

Every kid who has played sports just wants to feel like a big-leaguer. To put on the uniform. To be part of the team. To play a game they see so many others playing.

Yet when Colson Saner was about 7, his parents wondered if those days would ever happen again. Sure, Colson participated in organized sports. But as he grew older, years after being born three months premature, they began to see worrisome signs – signs that ultimately led to a diagnosis of autism and cerebral palsy.

“We went to the school counselor and that’s when we got involved in Champion Athletes,” Melissa Saner said. “It’s really a physical challenge for them to fit into the mainstream (sports). But we’ve found Champion Athletes, and they’ve become a second family.”

Indeed, the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper is proud to partner with Champion Athletes of the Ozarks, which offers sports opportunities for children and adults with disabilities.

The golf tournament, part of the PGA’s Web.com Tour, has generated almost $13 million for Ozarks-area charities in its 26-year history.

Now here’s your chance to help Colson and all other Champion Athletes.

About Champion Athletes

Champion Athletes of the Ozarks helps those with developmental disabilities.
Champion Athletes of the Ozarks helps those with developmental disabilities.

Through sports training and competition, Champion Athletes builds self-esteem, self-confidence and social skills for children and adults with disabilities – and does so in a positive environment.

Even better, Champion Athletes also has a main focus on life skills by offering classes in reading, basic money, math, storm preparedness and a wellness and fitness program.

It’s operated by Director Susan Miles.

“It is a privilege for me to see our individuals reach their full potential,” Miles said. “It is an honor to know that I had a part in their growth.”

Champion Athletes was formed in March 2002 and established to enhance athletes’ lives, build successful individuals and to expand their opportunities through sports training, competition and new activities. Most importantly, the programs are offered at no cost.

That’s a bonus for the Saner family, but not the reason they continue participating in Champion Athletes.

“If we’re not doing a regular school or family function, we’re with Champion Athletes two or three times a week,” Melissa said. “Susan and her husband, Danny, have become some of our best friends.”

Saner couldn’t say enough positive things, and understandably so. Colson participates mostly in basketball and soccer, but he’s also played many other sports thanks to Champion Athletes.

“People look at it as a sports organization, and it is to a point,” Melissa said. “But it also builds life skills. It’s also a place for other moms like me to talk about things only we understand. We’re all in the same boat together, and it’s like we all feel like a family. So it’s wonderful to be with this organization.”

RISING STARS, RAISING HOPES

  • BUSINESS SPONSORSHIPS: Businesses also can support the PCCC through various sponsorships, such as the skyboxes on the 9th and 18th greens (with food badges), on-course signage and events such as a dozen Pro-Ams. Businesses also can donate a gift card with at least a $25 value in the name of your charity of choice to benefit them in the Golf Ball & Charity Auction presented by Copy Products, Inc. and University Plaza.

    The Ultimate sponsorship means air-conditioned seating on the 18th green and a chance to win a Corvette Stingray.
    The Ultimate sponsorship means air-conditioned seating on the 18th green and a chance to win a Corvette Stingray.
  • WIN A NEW TRUCK: The purchase of a $25 TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes ticket serves as a four-day tournament pass, but it’s better than that. It enters you to win daily prizes during the tournament as well as grand prizes of $10,000 and a 2016 Ford F-150 XLT.

    Win this truck or $10,000 in the TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes, with a $25 buy-in.
    Win this truck or $10,000 in the TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes, with a $25 buy-in.
  • WATCH THE FUTURE OF THE PGA TOUR: The tournament is Aug. 5-15, with the pros beginning play Aug. 11 at Highland Springs Country Club. For more details, call 417-887-3400.

    Dawie vander Walt shows his winners trophy after the final round of the Price Cutter Charity Championship at Highland Springs Country Club in Springfield on August 16, 2015.
    Dawie vander Walt won the 2015 PCCC. (Photo courtesy of StidzMedia)
  • HELP CHAMPION ATHLETES OF THE OZARKS: To help the Springfield-based non-profit in any way or if you have a child or adult eager to participate in sports, call Champion Athletes at 417-890-1599.