Area 15 Special Olympics burger luncheon brings hungry diners

Not bothered by a little smoke are the hamburger luncheon cooks from Maryville, Alcoa and Blount County fire departments. Pictured are Mark Hasty, Patrick McGinley, Daniel Phipps, Daniel Harris, Blaine Howell, Richard Sargent and Darren Stinnett.

Photo by Leslie Karnowski

Not bothered by a little smoke are the hamburger luncheon cooks from Maryville, Alcoa and Blount County fire departments. Pictured are Mark Hasty, Patrick McGinley, Daniel Phipps, Daniel Harris, Blaine Howell, Richard Sargent and Darren Stinnett.

Gauging the success of an Area 15 Special Olympics Hamburger Lunch is as easy as listening to the noise level.

Area 15 Special Olympics coordinator and assistant director for Maryville Alcoa Blount County Parks and Recreation Cookie Crowson liked what she heard at the July 15 event at First Baptist Church of Maryville.

“You can tell how things are going when you pay attention to the noise level. People were talking and chatting and laughing and having a good day,” she said. “We had 41 tables set with six at each table, and there were some times when everything was full.”

Crowson was pleased with how well this year’s event went as the volunteer team served approximately 635 diners.

“We did well. I think we’re going to be at about $4,200 raised. The weather was a little iffy, and we had one good strong shower during the hour of the lunch, but people came anyway. It was a very good day,” she said.

Crowson said several Special Olympics athletes were on hand to greet the customers.

“People were very generous in giving donations even above their hamburger ticket. I even got donations through the mail,” she said. “As always, this community steps up and supports the program. It is fun to sit back and watch people come out and be supportive and know they’re really concerned about this event.”

Crowson said she always appreciates those folks who come by for lunch. “I know in my heart the community has always been supportive. Every year you wonder, ‘Is this the day people are going to be out of town on vacation or business?’ and then you open those doors,” she said. “This year we had a little bit of a slow start, then all of a sudden a line is forming and next the thing you hear is the hum of the crowd and the laughter and you see people enjoying themselves.”

Crowson thanked the Maryville Alcoa Civitan Club members for coming out that day. “They are a real strong volunteer group,” she said. “We also had Blount County Fire Department, Alcoa Fire Department and Maryville Fire Department personnel. They were all out there cooking burgers with the Parks and Recreation folks, and it was just great.”

Area 15 Special Olympics competitions start up for the year in September with bowling.

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