From the starting line to the presentation of awards, the 2019 Sumner County Special Olympics were filled with smiles and laughter last week.
In all, 348 participants competed in various track, long jump and softball throwing events at Station Camp High School on Friday, April 26. The theme of this year’s event was “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”
“This is like homecoming for these guys,” Sumner County Special Olympics organizer Dave McAndrew said. “Everybody else gets to have that big event and this is their chance to do it. It’s just an awesome thing.”
Started in 1968, Special Olympics has become the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities, according to its website. The organization supports more than 5 million athletes and one million volunteers in more than 170 countries around the world each year.
Prior to competing, students get pumped up and “an extra twinkle in their eye,” according to Laura Roush, a comprehensive development class (CDC) teacher at Station Camp Middle School.
“They love being around all of their friends, being around their peers and getting to participate with everyone feeling included,” Roush said. “Then there is the sense of accomplishment when they get to get their ribbon and their name is announced. They’re smiling from ear to ear.”