HYANNIS, Mass. This town on Cape Cod is associated in many minds with the Kennedy family who summered here for many years, but locals say a new charity is trying to trade on the reputation of the Special Olympics, which grew out of a camp founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver. “These new guys, they aren’t disabled, they’re just lazy shits,” says Bob Tomuski, who runs a convenience store just off the downtown strip. “Don’t put that on the internet, okay? I’ll have to put a quarter in the ‘swear’ jar at home if my wife reads it.”
But organizers of the Pretty Special Olympics–an event designed for those with self-imposed rather than natural disabilities–beg to differ. “We found that there was a vast unmet need between regular sports and events for the disabled,” says Executive Director Chet Dow, who promotes remedial physical activity for long-time couch potatoes. “If we get just one slacker out in the fresh air for something besides vaping–and make some money at it–we’ll be satisfied.”
And so the winners of regional competitions around the country gathered here yesterday for events that sought to lure them away from sedentary activities such as video games, comic book collecting and noodling around on the guitar for healthful if relatively undemanding events that promise to prolong their lives if they aren’t killed in the process.
You don’t get a body like this overnight, it takes years of neglect.
“These guys are world-class athletes, they just don’t know it yet,” says Norm Warburg, a volunteer who looks at a stop watch as he waits for contestants to round the final turn of a quarter-mile track. “Would you mind holding my clipboard,” he asks this reporter. “I need to go get a battery, my watch has stopped.”
Competitors are urged to stay hydrated, and vendor Mike Adamrik is doing a brisk business selling liver-rotting “energy” drinks to tired “slackaletes” such as Curt Bascomb, who traveled here from North Carolina without walking a single step. “A lot of people don’t realize it, but you don’t have to be crippled to get an electric cart to take you to and from your gate at the airport,” he says as he sucks down a 32-ounce 7-11 Wild Cherry Slurpee. And what, this reporter asks, is Bascomb’s handicap? “Sixteen strokes, but I can drive 200 yards off the tee.”
“Stop here, I want to get a frappucino.”
The awards ceremony always brings a tear to the eyes of even the most hardened sports reporters, as men who were once children beaten up by the athletes they usually cover have their long-overdue day in the sun. “We have one final trophy to hand out tonight,” Executive Director Dow says as a hush falls over the Oddfellows Hall in downtown Hyannis. “This guy–what can I say? He’s been an inspiration to us for many years, going all the way back to the time he stayed indoors for a whole week of summer camp as a kid.”
A few diners cast knowing looks towards an overweight man in the back of the room, a lottery sales agent who boasts that he hasn’t taken any voluntary exercise since he ran for an ice cream truck fifty years ago. “The winner of our Lifetime Achievement Award–Al DiQuattro–come on up!”
The hulking man stands up unsteadily and makes his way to the dais on spindly legs that appear too frail to get him to his destination.
“Thanks so much, Chet,” DiQuattro says as he accepts the Bronze Barcalounger, which recognizes members who make exemplary contributions to the neglect of the human body.
“And we’re going to make a contribution in your honor,” Dow says as he hands the honoree a standard-issue oversize check for $1.39, the price of a Double-Gulp soda refill at his favorite convenience store.
“You guys,” DiQuattro says, audibly choking up. “To be honored like this–you don’t know what it means to me.”
“Don’t get too sentimental,” Dow says, his tongue planted deeply in his cheek. “That doesn’t include state or local sales taxes.”