October 19, 2021

Go for the Gold in Homer supports Special Olympics

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Daryle Jennings, center, and Homer Police Officer Jay Forbes, left, talk with a driver Friday during Go for the Gold, a fundraiser to benefit the Special Olympics of New York.

Daryle Jennings was on top of his game Friday morning, going from car to car, greeting people and handing out coupons at the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through line in Homer.

Jennings, a Homer athlete who participates in the state Special Olympics, was joined by members of the Homer Police Department to collect donations during Go for the Gold, an event that sees local law enforcement agencies team up with Special Olympics New York to raise funds for the games, said Officer Charles Smiley of the Homer Police Department.

As drivers drove up to get their morning cup of joe and breakfast, Jennings and Officer Jay Forbes asked for donations and in return, handed out coupons for a free doughnut.

“Daryle likes to chat with everybody so this is great for him,” said Karli Buday, the Tompkins and Cortland counties area coordinator for Special Olympics New York.

Jennings normally participates in skiing, swimming, bowling, soccer and softball, Buday said.

While the fall games are returning this year after skipping 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jennings won’t be participating as he only does the winter and summer games, she said.

Still, all funds raised from the event — which was happening at Dunkin’ stores across Central New York and the Southern Tier — will go to funding the fall games.

Roughly 40 Dunkin’ locations across Central New York hosted Go for the Gold events, states a release from the company. This included Homer along with Dunkin’ restaurants in Cortland, such as the one on Tompkins Street, Buday said.

“Coming together as a community and doing events like this allows our athletes to come together and compete in any sport they want without any charge,” Buday said.

Wayne Rivers, a candidate for Cortland County who had pulled into the drive-through line, was awestruck seeing Jennings, beaming with energy and excitement when asking drivers if they would like to donate.

“It kind of got my heart there for a second,” he said. “I wish I had half of his energy.”

Rivers said he donated because he has a child with special needs and is supportive of causes that help improve the lives of people with disabilities.

“Any special needs (programs) I can be involved with, I’m all for it,” he said.