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Unified Egg Bowl Brings Fans Together for More Than Football

Photos by Emily Bryant
Photos by Emily Bryant

When Rebels and Bulldogs think of the Egg Bowl, it’s always about the big game between Ole Miss and Mississippi State right after Thanksgiving. This year, those two words will bring a little more meaning.
IMG_6485Special Olympics Mississippi is hosting the first Special Olympics Unified Egg Bowl in Starkville on Nov. 19. In the Unified Egg Bowl, Special Olympics athletes with intellectual disabilities play flag football alongside college students from Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Although the Egg Bowl traditionally incites rivalry between the two Mississippi schools, the Unified Egg Bowl hopes to encourage different feelings.
“The goals behind the Unified Egg Bowl are to foster interaction, inclusion, and understanding about intellectual disabilities,” said Tony Bahou, President and CEO of Special Olympics.
The event will be held on the Mississippi State intramural fields at 3 p.m. MSU Athletic Director Scott Stricken will begin the festivities, and the Maroon Band is performing at half time.
IMG_6482Emily Bryant, the Ole Miss student contact for the event, says, “Once you look past the disability and you put the person first, you would be amazed at the friendships formed. The Special Olympics athletes and the traditional student athletes get along like any team would. They talk smack, roughhouse, and encourage each other. I have loved being involved with this incredible organization and I cannot wait to see the results of the boys’ hard work.”
Head coaches Hugh Freeze and Dan Mullen issued videos challenging their fans to donate to Special Olympics programs at their respective universities. A three point advantage will be given to the team that donates the most money.
IMG_6480Ole Miss’ team has been practicing at the intramural fields each week. Last week, the team was visited by two Ole Miss football players, Ryan Buchanan and Evan Engram. The players watched the practice and led the players in a huddle.
“This is truly a historic time for Mississippi, and the world is watching and cheering,” said Bahou. “There’s much more at stake than the glory of winning—we are challenging both schools to make history by helping create unified sports programs on their campuses. They can do that by donating, volunteering and pledging not to use the R-word.”
Fans can donate for the Ole Miss team at UnifiedEggBowl.org.
Rachel Gholson is a HottyToddy.com staff reporter and can be reached at regholso@go.olemiss.edu.

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