Since 1974 Newton County has rallied around its Special Olympians, and it's time once more to do just that today.
The Spring Games will kick off with the annual parade of athletes around the square at 10 a.m., followed by the torch run at Sharp Stadium. Tuesday is the track and field events at Sharp for the elementary-aged children and Wednesday for the middle, high and adult athletes. Each day there will also be a variety of entertainment for the children, including visits from local law enforcement and firefighters, clowns and a petting zoo.
What started off with just 50 athletes in 1974 now has roughly 600 that compete in some way year-round. From bowling and skating to horsemanship, for many, the Special Olympics are the first time they have been able to compete athletically. And the spring games are geared toward the athletes. For the more physically challenged, there are wheelchair races and throwing competitions, for the more physically able, there are running and walking events. Everyone gets a medal and everyone is a winner.
"In Special Olympics, everyone wins - the athletes, parents, teachers, coaches, and the many volunteers who are involved in the program," said coordinator Pam Dew. "The special athlete, when allowed to get onto the playing field, has much to contribute: loyalty, devotion, determination and joy! Studies have shown that in communities where Special Olympics programs are successful, the children who participate improve significantly in their attitudes toward school and physical fitness, and members of the general public were more likely to have a positive attitude toward special individuals and their potential. As the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of Special Olympics, Inc., stated, ‘A just and good society is one which cares for those who may be less able, but who are in no sense less worthy.'"
Everyone is invited and urged to attend not only the parade but also the games to cheer on the athletes. The parade starts at 10 a.m. and is immediately followed by the torch run, and the games on Tuesday and Wednesday begin at 10 a.m. and last through noon. There is no cost to attend, though donations are always welcome.
For volunteer opportunities available for a variety of events throughout the year contact Pam Dew at (404) 791-3032, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.