Cape to host Special Olympic State Bocce Tournament
More than 100 Special Olym-pians are set to compete in a two-day bocce ball tournament this weekend in Cape Coral.
The tournament begins Friday and brings 165 athletes from across the state to the Special Olympic State Invitational Bocce Tournament. For the first time ever, the tournament will be at Veterans Park, explained Skinny Batista, tournament director for the Cape Coral Bocce Association.
“It has been in different locations of Lee County each year. This year they’re going to host the whole tournament at Veterans Park,” said Batista. “It will be the first time Cape Coral has been hosting all of Lee County.”
The bocce facility on Coronado Parkway has typically hosted qualifiers for larger events, but Special Olympics officials decided on Veterans Park because it has six courts and can handle more people, said Batista.
The opening ceremony is Friday at noon, said George Furlan, who originated the bocce tournament for Special Olympics athletes in Lee County three years ago, and the tournament will continue Saturday from 8:30 a.m. until whenever the games are finished.
Mayor John Sullivan will roll the first ball of the tournament Saturday at 9:30 a.m.
Furlan said four Lee County competitors are also scheduled to compete this summer in the national Special Olympics championships in Lincoln, Neb. Winners who go any further will compete in Greece.
He explained there are a tremendous amount of people helping with the event and it is open to the public.
“Three years go I asked if it was possible to do what we are doing Friday and Saturday and they said yes,” said Furlan.
In bocce, competitors throw a smaller ball or “pallina” and the object of the game is to roll or throw larger, colored balls as close to the “pallina” as possible. Batista said all the competitors are awarded medals.
“We don’t single out anybody,” he said.
All 165 competitors will receive a medal on Saturday, including 60 for first place, 60 for second place and 45 for third place.
Throughout the year the Cape Coral Bocce Association runs other charitable tournaments, said Batista. Every Saturday the association chooses a charity to benefit from its events. In the past, the organization has raised $2,500 for juvenile diabetes, $1,000 for breast cancer and $1,000 for cystic fibrosis, he said.