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SIU Chancellor Austin Lane gets soaked with student club for Special Olympics

The Southern Illinoisan - 3/18/2021

Mar. 18—CARBONDALE — Students in the SIU Automotive Technology Organization got a little soaked in an auto shop at the Transportation Education Center at Southern Illinois Airport Wednesday.

Taking part in this year's Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge At Home, the ATO club challenged students and professors to raise $100 each to participate in a water balloon fight.

One of the team's newest members, SIU Chancellor Austin Lane, raised funds to join the fight.

The group was divided into two teams, professors and students, with Lane joining the student's team. Each team had eight bins of water balloons.

Lane said he met Kim Talley, director of Special Olympics Illinois Region K, at the Dairy Queen last summer and has been talking with her about the Polar Plunge since July.

"It's a great cause. It's great to see students so involved in getting hands-on and getting really cold for Special Olympics," Lane said. "I look forward to doing this every year."

As athletes, Sheridan Coleman and Eric Baughman know how important Special Olympics is.

Coleman was wearing a gold medal she earned in basketball at Illinois state competitions. Baughman wore his gold medal from the World Games in Ireland.

"Being good at Special Olympics helps us build self-esteem and boost our morale and socialization. It shows everyone what we are capable of," Baughman said.

Coleman said she loves competing and sports.

"Watching people throwing balloons was so funny!" she said.

"It's a lot of fun to see the chancellor participating for Special Olympics," Baughman said.

Bogden Sababas, president of ATO, said the group has a fundraising goal of $3,000, and had raised $2,000 of that by Tuesday.

Donations can be made through a link on the club's Facebook Page, Automotive Technology Organization (ATO), through March 28.

"We encourage everyone to donate," Sababas said.

Talley said it's not too late for everyone to get involved in this year's event.

To make a donation or find a team, visit

Talley said using this link will make sure donations stay in Southern Illinois.

The athletes thanked everyone for participating and supporting their sports.

This spring, Special Olympics will host several smaller group competitions. Athletes will get to compete and see their friends, and they will follow Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines.

The first will be a snowshoeing event March 28 at Du Quoin State Fairground.

Special Olympics Region K serves 1,645 athletes in Alexander, Clay, Edwards, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Lawrence, Marion, Massac, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, Richland, Saline, Union, Wabash, Wayne, White and Williamson counties.



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