February 24, 2014 8:59:00 AM
Nathan Gregory - [email protected]
The Columbus Soccer Complex, which opened in 2012, has been a benefit for people young and old in Columbus and Lowndes County, but there's a select group of people that deserves its own 'Field of Dreams.'
That's how former Lowndes County supervisor and volunteer for Golden Triangle Outdoors Mike Smith feels. The organization, which holds activities year-round for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, plans to use a recent donation toward that goal.
Trotter Convention Center Director Frank Goodman recently donated $2,500 from his father's memorial fund to Golden Triangle Outdoors. His father, the late Ed Goodman, was a former director of the Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority.
Golden Triangle Outdoors volunteer Debbie Taylor said the organization has been involved in the community for more than 15 years and holds more than a dozen events yearly for adults and youth with intellectual disabilities, including deer and turkey hunts, fishing tournaments and baseball games. GTO also holds an annual fundraiser, cooks for other organizations in town and supports activities for CLRA's baseball program, Taylor said.
"We started out with kids, but our kids got to be adults, so we've just sort of grown with the age," Taylor said.
Smith said it takes about $15,000 each year to operate GTO's different functions. His ultimate goal for the organization, however, is to work with the county and city to build an outdoor facility. The field would consist of astroturf and restrooms that comply with American Disabilities Act standards so those with physical limitations, specifically those in wheelchairs, can enjoy the space. GTO would be willing to provide in-kind services and some funding of its own, he said, but he and GTO volunteers "can't just do it by ourselves."
"It's going to take a lot of people's help. I've talked to county and city officials over the past five to six years about it," Smith said. "I know the city and county have done a lot of great things as far as activities for all folks, like the new soccer fields, but now it's time to start thinking about our challenged people from 2-year-olds up to adults."
To make a donation to Golden Triangle Outdoors, call Taylor at 251-3366. For more information on the Ed Goodman Memorial Fund, call Frank Goodman at 328-4164.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.