Spend the summer splashing around with friends, exercising outside, and help out a nationally renowned nonprofit in the process? Where do we sign up?

It was a summer well spent for the kids at the Hockessin Athletic Club’s Summer Camp 2014.

For the past eight years, proceeds from the camp’s Family Social ticket sales and other camp-related activities have earned the Special Olympics Delaware over $30,000, with $10,400 earned in just the past few months.

Beyond the dollar amounts, the camp program brings kids from both sides together for what the organizers say is often a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

‘BUILDING BRIDGES’

For Anne Grunnert, executive director of the Special Olympics Delaware, the money is certainly a much-needed asset to help their impacted growth across the state.

“More importantly, it’s a chance for our athletes to be able to work with the campers here, have a meaningful, inclusive experience, and that’s what opens doors to understanding,” Grunnert said. “It’s about building bridges of acceptance.”

She added that people with special needs are often not accepted by the community at large, making any chance to close those gaps an exceptional one.

She knows because she’s seen it firsthand.

“We work a lot in our schools, and we see an incredible opening of hearts and minds when we see everyone’s talents,” she said. “When we help youth understand that they’re more alike than not, then they understand they can be a part of making a change.

DOLLARS FOR FUN

Youth programs manager Carla Lenderman said that the proceeds come from numerous sources, including sales from the HAC Shack commissary stand, and ticket sales from the annual camp social, held last week at HAC’s outdoor pool.

They also raise funds through donations to the raffle and silent auction, which boasted items from as close as downtown Hockessin and as far away as the beaches – over 80 items in all.

“It was a huge crowd the entire time,” Lenderman said of last Thursday’s social. “We had a lot of success with the silent auction, which is what raised a significant amount of the donation.”

She added that the auction would not have been so successful without the immense community support.

“People really rally around this event and the Special Olympics, so it’s a great chance to show their support,” she said.

Numerous area businesses donated time, money and goods to the event, including Inflatables R Fun, who donated all of the carnival games and inflatables for the social.

Other sponsors include Salon by Dominic, the Back Burner, Quinn’s Café, Woodside Farm, Longwood Gardens and dozens more.

HAC owner Bob Carpenter said that supporting the nonprofit athletic organization is an obvious choice.

“It teaches these kids about the Special Olympics and what they’re all about, so we’re pleased to be able to help,” he said.

In the past eight years, the HAC summer camp has brought in just over $30,000 in funding for Special Olympics Delaware.

The organization’s goal is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for 3,700 children and adults with intellectual disabilities throughout the state.