HARRISONBURG, Va. – The James Madison University athletics division’s Day With the Dukes last Saturday (Sept. 19) gave approximately 60 Special Olympians the opportunity to spend an afternoon and evening with JMU student-athletes.

The annual Day With the Dukes program brings the Special Olympians to campus where they work with members of JMU athletics teams, enjoy a tailgate dinner, have photographs made, and view a JMU football game.

The Dukes defeated Virginia Military Institute 44-16 Saturday evening, capping the day’s events for the Special Olympians.

Earlier the group worked at JMU’s Bridgeforth Stadium with members of the JMU football team.  They viewed demonstrations of football techniques, took part in drills similar to the players’ activities and made “entrances” to the playing area through the inflatable Duke Dog that is part of pre-game festivities at JMU contests.

The Special Olympians later took part in similar activities in JMU’s Godwin Hall Gymnasium with members of the Dukes’ men’s soccer and men’s and women’s basketball programs.  The tailgate dinner took place on the playing field adjacent to Godwin Hall, the center of activity for JMU pre-game events.

“Working with the Special Olympians is a great experience for members of our program,” said JMU football coach Mickey Matthews.  “We’re able to make a difference when the group comes to campus, but in many ways our players get more out of the activities than the visitors.  It’s something our student-athletes certainly enjoy being a part of.”