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First Special Olympics Spring Games in three years set for April 12-14
Special Olympics preview
Dr. Hugh Waters of Newton County Special Olympics stands with Special Olympics athletes Cole Goering, Asia Woods and Jackson Lingner. - photo by Tom Spigolon

COVINGTON, Ga. — Almost 500 Newton County special olympians are about to get their first chance in three years to compete in the agency's biggest event.

Newton County Special Olympics' annual Spring Games track and field event is set for April 12-14, 10 a.m.-noon each day, at Sharp Stadium at 2207 Williams St. in Covington. 

Middle and high school students and adult graduates will compete April 12; followed by elementary competitors spread over two days April 13-14 so spacing can be done as a precaution against COVID, said LaTrelle Cawthon, coordinator of the event and Newton Special Olympics. 

Flint Hill, Fairview, West Newton, Porterdale and Oak Hill Elementary schools will compete on April 13, followed by South Salem, Live Oak, Middle Ridge and East Newton Elementary schools on April 14. 

Organizers canceled the formerly annual event in 2020 and 2021 because of concerns about the spread of COVID, Cawthon said.

"We're so excited to return," Cawthon said.

In lieu of a parade, this year student-athletes will have the opportunity to visit a petting zoo provided by Cassandra Butts of Newborn that will set up on site throughout the event.  

"We feel the students will more fully enjoy the animals and this will also allow more social distancing, following COVID-19 practices," school officials said. 

Cawthon said participants have enjoyed a petting zoo in past years.

"The children just loved it," she said.

About 250 upper ages and 240 elementary students are set to compete, Cawthon said.

She said in a letter emailed to local businesses that more than 600 participate in the overall program.

"Special Olympics is the worldwide leader in providing high quality sports training and athletic competition opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Our program is unique in that it accommodates competitors at all ability levels by assigning them to 'competition division’ based on both age and actual performance.”  

Student buddies for the event have come from Alcovy and Newton high schools and Peachtree Academy, she said.

Cawthon said volunteers for the event have come from local companies like BD in the past. The volunteers help organizers keep the event moving and set up and break down the equipment needed for the Games, she said

She said the local Special Olympics program includes different levels of training and competition in 18 different sports and activities throughout the year. 

However, its spotlight event, Spring Games, offers track and field competitions for all age and ability groups, she said.  

"This event also offers our community a first-hand opportunity to see the special gifts and talents our athletes possess," she said.

For more information, call 770-788-5387 or email