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Special Olympics begins
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Newton County Special Olympics will be held this week, as children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities participate in a variety of athletic activities.

Laurie Gates, an event organizer, said this year’s games are dedicated to the memory of Andre Troche, a South Salem Elementary School second-grader with special needs who passed away April 15.

The week-long event will kick off on Monday with a parade, which will line up at Sharp Learning Center beginning at 9:30 a.m., and kick off at 10:30 a.m.

Opening ceremonies for Special Olympics will be on the field at Homer Sharp Stadium from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Co-grand marshals this year are retiring teacher of special education Valeria Maddox and retiring Newton County School System Superintendent Gary Mathews.

Honorary grand marshal is Jonah Barnett, a fifth-grader who is battling cancer, Gates said.

Track and field events will be at Homer Sharp Stadium, on Tuesday for elementary-school athletes, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.; and Wednesday for middle-school, high-school and adult athletes, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Entertainment and other activities will be provided between the events.

Closing ceremonies will be Friday at The Church at Covington, 11975 Ga. Highway 142, Oxford, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Each year, more than 500 local youths and young adults have participated in the Newton County Special Olympics. The event also brings out hundreds of volunteers.

Athletes train and compete in sports such as basketball, volleyball, softball, tennis, soccer, bowling, roller skating, horseback riding, power lifting, golf, track and field, developmental sports and wheelchair activities.

Winning in the Special Olympics is not about being faster and stronger, but about individuals achieving their personal best.

Anyone interested in volunteering should contact LaTrelle Cawthon at 404-797-9526 or Lynda Reagan at 770-823-7301.