A series of athletic events used in the past to find the finest warriors in Scotland, will be used to help American soldiers of today.
Highland Games, also known as Scottish Heavy Games, which originated from the Scottish king’s desire to field the best army, will be a part of the Bristol Mountain Fall Festival in October to benefit OASIS Adaptive Sports in Honeoye. The nonprofit organization offers sports equipment, sports instruction, and support to the region’s military veterans to overcome psychological and physical injuries.
Event organizer Tim Mullally, of Canandaigua, is eager to bring awareness to Scottish Heavy Games and OASIS.
“It’s a great opportunity to bring the Highland Games to the Finger Lakes, and raise some money doing it,” said Mullally, 43, a member of the Buffalo Heavies Kilted Throwers Club.
OASIS Adaptive Sports President Bob Hoover sees a connection between the Scottish games and the organization he founded in 2008 with his wife Merrily.
“No. 1, they’re both unique and challenging,” said Hoover, 70 of Honeoye. “When veterans get back home, they need help getting back to challenging and appealing activities. Finding new sports that are challenging and appealing help veterans transition into civilian life.”
The idea for the fundraiser began last October when Mullally saw some of OASIS’ adaptive ski equipment on display. Previously, Mullally and the Buffalo Heavies have fundraised for other veterans organizations, such as the Wounded Warrior Project.
Mullally’s commitment to the helping veterans has impressed Hoover, a Vietnam veteran.
“(Mullally’s) a go-getter,” he said. “Our connection will continue after this fundraiser. We’re lucky to have him. He’s committed to making all of this happen. A lot of people will say, ‘Gee, I want to help you,’ but it takes a lot of time.”
The event is already generating interest in the throwing community, as more than 25 athletes from New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Canada have agreed to compete, Mullally said.
Regardless of being a sport rooted in Scottish history, one does not need to be Scottish to watch or compete.
“I’m Irish, but on the day we’re throwing we’re all Scottish,” he said. “We have Italian-Americans, African-Americans, English, and Canadians competing. ... It’s a cross-section of North America.”
This version of the Scottish Heavy Games will feature seven of the nine traditional events.
“Overall, it’s very entertaining,” Mullally said. “It’s like nothing else. ... If you see it for the first time, there are some odd events. It’s just different. There’s a bunch of full-grown men from all walks of life wearing kilts.”
Perhaps the most identifiable event at the Highland Games is the caber toss, which looks like a person running with a telephone pole and flinging it end-over-end. A caber is a cut, trimmed tree with two smooth ends between 16- and 22-feet long and often between 100 and 180 pounds. The competitors lift, carry, and vault the caber through the air, then contestants are judged on how close to a 12-o’clock position the smaller, rounded end of the caber lands.
Page 2 of 2 - There is also another familiar-looking event. The stone put, which is much like today’s Olympic shot put, has two versions: The Braemar stone, which is between 20 and 26 pounds for men and between 13 to 18 pounds for women, and the open stone, which is between 16 to 22 pounds for men and 8 to 12 pounds for women. The competitor who hurls it the farthest wins.
Another event where “farthest wins,” is the weight throw, which has a light and heavy version.
The Highland Games include several other feats of strength. The sheaf toss is an event where a contestant uses a pitchfork to attempt to hurl a 10- to 20-pound bundle of straw over a raised bar — like pole vaulting. The raised bar is used in another event called “weight for height,” in which competitors attempt to toss a weight over the bar.
The organizers are looking for interested businesses to sponsor each of the seven events, with all of the money donated to OASIS Adaptive Sports. Interested parties can contact Mullally at email@example.com. Donations will also be gathered through raffling products donated by Sport Kilt USA.