Hannibal Hawks gain skills on and off the court

Hannibal Hawks Special Olympics Basketball Team

The Special Olympics gives its athletes a chance to shine. However, it needs volunteers and donations to keep the games going.

Kenny Walker has played for the Hannibal Hawks Special Olympics Basketball Team for several years now.

He plays hard, but he never loses sight of what's most important.

"It doesn't matter if we win or lose. We just have fun," Kenneth Walker said. Click here to hear more from Kenneth Walker on KHQA This Morning.

The Hannibal Hawks are made up of three 3-on-3 basketball teams as well as a skills team, which allows players of different abilities to participate. Players learn the game at weekly practices and train hard to be ready for games.

"You got to focus on the game," Special Olympics Athlete Scott Aldrich said. Click here to hear more from Scott on KHQA This Morning.

"It takes a lot of practice and focus. I like competition. It is nerve-wracking but I like the adrenaline rush," Special Olympics Athlete Bryan Johnson said.

While players practice hard on on the court, coaches are in short supply.

Kathy Butler, Hannibal's Special Olympics coach, has volunteered as a coach for the team the past six years. She's seen first hand the positive effect sports on her athletes and coaches.

"They become part of your family. You learn their abilities, what they need and how to help them. In the meantime they're helping you also," Butler said.

Click here to learn more about the benefits of coaching from KHQA This Morning.

"She pushes us really hard to practice," Special Olympics Athlete Pedro Dyer said. Click here to hear more from Dyer on KHQA This Morning.

Click here to hear from Curtis, another Special Olympics Athlete.

More volunteers are always needed on and off the hardwood.

How rewarding is it to be a coach?

"It's probably the best thing I've ever done," Butler said.

The Special Olympics is funded by donations from all over the country.

Hannibal's main fundraiser, the Polar Plunge, is coming up February 22 at the Hannibal Marina. Click here to register a team.

Teams are needed to take the plunge. Click here to watch the details on the Plunge from KHQA This Morning.