That morning, their ragtag flag football team won one game and lost another — but as their third game neared, they weren’t concerned.
“It’s fun to be on a team representing Special Olympics,” said Robert Giessel, Special Olympics Wisconsin athlete. “It makes us appreciate what everyone is doing for us.”
Steps away, dozens of other flag football players caught passes and grunted across the field at City Stadium. Over the course of the day, teams of up to 15 people gathered to raise funds for Special Olympics Wisconsin as part of the first annual Titletown Showdown Flag Football Tournament presented by the Green Bay Packers Give Back.
“Teamwork is just as important off the field. That’s why Green Bay Packers Give Back was proud to be the presenting partner of the Titletown Showdown. Green Bay Packers alumni players, Special Olympics athletes, law enforcement and fans came together for a day of play – illustrating the essence of community. I am honored to be a part of both of these tremendous organizations,” shares Paul Baniel, Vice President of Finance & Administration for the Green Bay Packers and Chairman Emeritus of Special Olympics Wisconsin.
“Along with law enforcement, recreational and competitive teams, the 2016 tournament’s lineup included a unified aspect consisting of athletes with and without intellectual disabilities,” said Matt Harper, Regional Director of Development for Special Olympics Wisconsin.
“It’s a very big initiative to showcase our athletes’ abilities on the field along with everyone else,” said Harper.
Retired New Jersey police officer and co-founding member of the New Jersey Law Enforcement Torch Run, Jim Mckeever, watched the games on the sidelines nearby. McKeever made the trip to Wisconsin to help oversee the first annual Titletown Showdown in hopes it can be just as successful as the Special Olympics New Jersey Snow Bowl flag football tournament. The Snow Bowl is in its 10th year raising over $450,000, and partners with the New York Giants.
“Wisconsin is the second state to adopt a flag football event for Special Olympics on behalf of the Law Enforcement Torch Run.” said McKeever. “In New Jersey we just completed our tenth anniversary flag football event for Special Olympics and we are thrilled to have Law Enforcement Torch Run Wisconsin aboard now, especially on a historic site.
City Stadium was once home to the Green Bay Packers before the team moved to Lambeau Field in the 1950s. Where former Green Bay Packers called home, it was only fitting to have alumni Green Bay Packers from recent years play side-by-side with Special Olympics athletes on the Packers’ original field.
“It’s a great event for a special cause. Special Olympics is near and dear to the City of Green Bay and just being able to have the opportunity as an alumni to come out and play was a great opportunity for us.” said Tony Fischer, Running Back for the Green Bay Packers from 2002-2005. “I see the tournament getting bigger and bigger.”