Click here for 2007 Gumbo Regional Competition Entry Forms


 Louisiana GUMBO

Sports Competition for Students With Physical or Visual Disabilities

 What is GUMBO?

GUMBO (Games Uniting Mind and Body) is interscholastic track and field competition designed
for school aged students who have physical or visual disabilities.  The events are not unlike those at any other
track meet: races, shot put, discus, etc.  What makes GUMBO different is the fact that most of the athletes
compete using leg braces, wheelchairs, or some form of mobility or visual impairment.

The athletes competing in GUMBO are not mentally disabled.  Their eligibility for the competition comes form having a physical disability or visual impairment and they compete with athletes who have similar or like impairments.

GUMBO strives to support students with disabilities in developing active minds, self confidence, dignity, discipline, competitive spirit and comradeship.  Like other competitive sporting events, GUMBO competitions offer athletes a contest with self, challenging each person to improve performance, strength, speed, endurance and coordination.

What is the Purpose of GUMBO?

The primary purpose of the GUMBO program is to provide athletic opportunities for children and youth who have physical or visual disabilities.  GUMBO competition is based on a philosophy that endorses participation in sports as having strong therapeutic and social value.  Typically these students are not eligible for Special Olympics and have limited opportunities to participate in or be exposed to high school interscholastic or extracurricular sports. 

The secondary purpose of GUMBO is to assist the students in preparing for the future by providing school and community athletic/recreation programs and by training professionals and parents to coach and prepare the athletes properly. 

All youngsters should experience the lessons learned from winning and losing.  The entire competitive experience should come as an extension of learning the correct way of performing a skill; knowing the equipment; conditioning the body; and, finally, of competing.

Children and young adults with disabilities can successfully integrate into community road races and other athletic events (wheelchair basketball, archery, swimming, etc.) With a little training and practical experience.  In this way, GUMBO fills a very special need! 

Who May Participate?

Any Louisiana resident, age 5 through 18, who has a physical or visual disability is eligible for competition.  Students 19-22 are allowed to compete if they are enrolled full-time in a public school special education program.  Examples of disability are spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, other orthopedic disabilities, and most visual impairments.  GUMBO is for all children with physical or visual impairments, not just for those receiving special educational services. 

Where and When are the Competitions Held?

Four main events are held each year.  The regional competitions are held each spring in Shreveport, New Orleans, and Alexandria.  The GUMBO INVITATIONAL (state competition) is held each fall in Baton Rouge.  Additional competitions or sports clinics can be scheduled   in other areas of the state if a significant number of students are interested. 

What Does it Cost to Participate?

There are no entry fees for GUMBO events.  Regional and state competitions are scheduled on Saturday and most participating school systems can provide or assist with transportation for the athletes.  At the state competition, lodging and meals are provided for the athletes and their coaches. 

Who Coaches the GUMBO Athlete?

Most of the athletes at the elementary school level are coached by a physical education teacher, classroom teacher, or a parent.  Athletes at the secondary level are usually coached by a physical education teacher or the high school track coach.  Anyone can volunteer to coach an athlete with a disability.  Coaching methods are not unlike those used with able-bodied athletes.  With a little bit of technical assistance and training, anyone can become a GUMBO coach! 

Who Sponsors GUMBO Competitions?

All GUMBO activities are collaboratively sponsored by the Louisiana Department of Education Division of Educational Improvement and Assistance, Louisiana GUMBO Inc., Blaze Sports Louisiana, the Louisiana Elks Association, and Families Helping Families at the Crossroads. 

All aspects of GUMBO events are organized and initiated by volunteers.  Each agency/organization provides both monetary contributions and unlimited hours of in-kind services.  GUMBO does not have a paid staff.  The members of the Board of Directors for Louisiana GUMBO Inc. are volunteers representing parents, coaches, officials, business and industry, and education.  The Executive Director and Program Coordinator are employed by agencies that collaboratively support GUMBO (LA Dept. of Ed. and Families Helping Families), and as such, allocate a portion of employee time to this exceptional program. 

How Can I Get My Student and/or Child Involved in GUMBO?

For more information, an entry form for competition, or  GUMBO rules, contact Janice Fruge’ Executive Director (Louisiana Department of Education) 225-342-3730 or Pam Carey, Program Coordinator (Families Helping Families) 1-800-259-7200 or E-mail:  Workshops, clinics, and seminars are scheduled throughout the year in various locations for parents, teachers, athletes and volunteers at no cost to participants. 

How Can I Help GUMBO?

GUMBO currently serves fewer the 1/3 of the students in our state who have physical or visual disabilities.  In order to expand into additional areas of the state and improve opportunities for students, GUMBO needs financial support.  Louisiana GUMBO Inc. is recognized as nonprofit and exempt from federal income tax under Section 501 (a) of the Internal Revenue Code as an organization described in Section 501 © (3).  Monies or services donated to Louisiana GUMBO Inc. are used directly for the program and the children it serves; the donations are tax deductible. 

Volunteers are always needed to work the competitions as assistant officials, student aides, food service, etc. or to complete mailings, copying, and computer work.  Whether you prefer indoors or out-of-doors, active or inactive work, GUMBO has a place for you.  For more information about making a contribution or volunteering, please contact any of the members of the Board of Directors listed or call Janice Fruge’, Louisiana Department of Education, Division of Educational Improvement and Assistance at (225) 342-3730 or E-mail to Janice.Fruge’@LA.GOV





                             “A RECIPE FOR SUCCESS”



Louisiana GUMBO Inc.

Board of Directors


Brian Baker (Shreveport) 318-868-5083

Fern Belton (Shreveport) 318-746-8558

C. J. Bennett (Slidell) 985-641-8225

Greg Grambling ( Ruston) 318-251-1764

Steve Irving ( Baton Rouge) 225-752-2688

Mona Timpa ( Lake Charles) 337-478-1629

Matthew Coussan (Lafayette) 337-303-5602

Keiley Williams (Denham Springs) 225-667-8881

Jim Thompson (Alexandria) 318-487-4544

Dorene Fox (Alexandria) 318-427-4468


1997, Revised 2002

Louisiana Department of Education

Cecil J. Picard, Superintendent