Athens area medical experts help students get physicals in time for Special Olympics

Most youngsters with special needs in Athens and nearby counties could not have participated in next week’s Special Olympics at Athens Academy if not for a special deed done Nov. 3 by local physicians.

 

The annual Special Olympics hosted by Athens Academy requires each student to have a physical signed by a doctor, but the academy’s Service Program Chairman Brian Olson discovered the majority of students with special needs didn’t get physicals this year. Such evaluations are required to take part in Special Olympics games.

With their participation in the event in jeopardy, Olson sought help from Georgia Williams, a longtime supporter of the school.

She quickly secured the assistance of her husband, Dr. Jeff Williams, and his staff at Athens Gastroenterology Association. On Friday, they set up shop at the academy’s gymnasium and provided physicals for more than 100 children bused in from Clarke, Jackson and Oconee counties.

The number of children surprised even Georgia Williams.

“I think it’s wonderful that so many kids will be helped,” she said.

“This is a huge deal for the community and the families,” Olson said. “She made it happen.”

Athens Academy runs the Special Olympics, which includes basketball and bowling.

“Every athlete has to have a physical renewed every three years and it has to be signed by a doctor,” said Julie Evans, an adapted physical education teacher in Athens and a Special Olympics coordinator.

“Specifically for Clarke County schools, I only had 33 percent of my total athlete base get the physicals completed by a doctor on their own. So today, I’m bringing more than 80 kids from the schools so they can participate for the next three years and I’m really excited,” Evans said.

She estimated about 35 children total would arrive from Oconee and Jackson counties.

Dr. Williams shut his office down Friday with many of the staff members volunteering time to provide the exams, including advance practitioners, registered nurses and techs, according to office manager Pam Dennard.

“If there are any findings (of problems), he will refer them back to their regular physicians,” Dennard said.

Georgia Williams said the staff at her husband’s business are always looking for ways to help.

“They are always looking for things to do for service in the community,” she said.

 

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