Merlene Davis: Special Olympics Kentucky needs your help to stay warm

The scarves can be of any design, but the colors and measurements need to be uniform.
The scarves can be of any design, but the colors and measurements need to be uniform.

Something happened this year to cause Special Olympics Kentucky to fall far short on the number of scarves the organization had hoped to hand out to athletes, coaches and volunteers during the 2014 State Winter Games in January.

"We are kind of behind this year," said Brittany Abell, field services and youth initiative director for Special Olympics Kentucky. "We are looking for 250 scarves. We would love to have 500. We only have 38."

That is a serious shortfall. And Abell realizes it's already the middle of December, and the scarves are needed by Jan. 17 for the winter games that take place Jan. 26-28 at Perfect North Slopes in Lawrenceburg, Ind.

Adding more stress to the situation is that the needed scarves aren't available on store shelves or online. The scarves have a specific color combination, green and off-white, and measurements have to be uniform. Each state that hosts Winter Games has its own colors that change each year. The color changes allow those who collect the scarves to have something different each year, Abell said.

And that, of course, means each scarf has to be knitted or crocheted individually.

This is the third year the organization has had to appeal to knitters and crocheters to create scarves for participants, and it's a great way for volunteers to participate in the games without having to head to a snowy mountaintop.

"I'm not sure why we're short this year," Abell said. "I don't know if it has run its course or if we just didn't get the word out. We feel like it is such a great project for those who can't volunteer at the games."

The idea of the scarves started in Boise, Idaho with the 2009 World Winter Games, and ended nationally at the conclusion of the Scarf Project 2012. But individual states decided to continue the project.

The project has become a symbol of unity, community and support within the Special Olympics movement, Abell said.

Any design is acceptable. Be as creative as you'd like. Both colors, however, must be prevalent in each scarf. The scarves should be between 54 and 60 inches long, and 6 inches wide. Use only Red Heart Soft Yarn's "Off White" #4601 and "True Green" # 9621, or Red Heart Super Saver's "Aran," #0313, or "Hunter Green," #0389.

Each scarf should be placed separately in a plastic resealable bag for sanitary reasons before mailing. Abell asks that you also include an index card with your name and mailing address, too.

"That way we will know who the scarf came from and we can get thank-you notes out to them," Abell said.

She is expecting a little more than 100 athletes to compete in the games and they will get first dibs with the scarves. Any extras will go to the coaches and volunteers.

Last year, when more than 600 scarves were donated, there was more than enough to give out at the Special Olympics Kentucky State Cheerleading Competition held in March. If they received an abundance, the same would happen this year as well, Abell said. No scarves are trashed and none are saved for next year because the colors will change.

The games, which feature the Opening Ceremonies, the parade of athletes, and the lighting of the Special Olympic's cauldron on Jan. 26, will include alpine skiing and snowshoeing.

In the skiing competition, athletes compete in both downhill and slalom events while paired with volunteer ski partners. In snowshoeing, athletes compete in the 25-meter, 50-meter and 100-meter races.

Those scarves will help the athletes to at least feel like the Americans competing in the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Abell hopes church groups or knitting programs will take on this project. She would love to see an avalanche of green and white yarn.


Special Olympics Kentucky's 2014 Scarf Project needs crocheted or knitted scarves — 54 to 60 inches long and 6 inches wide. Place it in a resealable plastic bag along with an index card with your name and address on it.

This year's colors are Red Heart Soft Yarn: Off White #4601 and True Green #9621, or Red Heart Super Saver Aran #0313 and Hunter Green #0389.

Mail to: Special Olympics Kentucky, 105 Lakeview Court, Frankfort Ky. 40601.

Deadline: Jan. 17.

Information: Call (502) 695-8222.