More than 20 participants from the city schools and the Arc of South Talladega County walked the track as students and volunteers cheered them on. The two organizations co-hosted the annual event for the third straight year.
Students with disabilities from the city schools joined adult clients of the Arc in several events, including the standing long jump and softball toss.
Other events were the 50-meter and 100-meter dash, 100-meter walk, 400-meter walk and wheelchair race. Arc director Beverly White said the non-profit organization was happy to be involved in a day of fun for everyone.
White’s son, Brian, competed in multiple events. She said she had seen from a mother’s perspective the type of anticipation the event generates for the competitors.
“My son was up at 4 (a.m.) with his Special Olympics T-shirt on, if that tells you anything,” White said. “They all look forward to it, just enjoying the day, succeeding and the applause, just the whole event.”
About 50 volunteers from Sylacauga High School, students and teachers, and Junior Civitans aided the Olympians. Also, teachers brought their classes from across the street to cheer them on.
Coach Robby Richardson served as the coordinator and “hype man” for the events. Participants smiled and raised their arms in triumph as the crowds applauded them.
“I feel like if you make it fun, they will have fun,” Richardson said. “They will enjoy it by seeing your expression. I just try to be crazy and be loud for them.”
Richardson has taught special education for 16 years, along with coaching football and baseball.
“When I got into it my first year, I took it and ran with it. I’ve loved it ever since,” Richardson said.
Tania Green and Jennifer Rosato were two of the coordinators for the Sylacauga School System.
Rosato, special education coordinator, said the excitement spreads among everyone in attendance.
“We have a lot of volunteers from the high school, and they are excited about this day, too,” she said.
Green, a teacher at the high school, said joining with the Arc had made the event better and brought more competitors out. And she said the healthy competition is combined with camaraderie between them all.
“They support each other and they clap for each other,” Green said. “Everybody has a good time and everybody is still friends.”
Special Olympics participants were:
• Alexander Steven Dickinson
• Kim Dobson
• Rodney Harvey
• Corey Horton
• Jake Ivey
• Zach Blake Lackey
• Andy Morris
• Beverly Nettles
• Chris Nichols
• Isaiah Norris
• Jessica Osborne
• Stevie Pittman
• Ashleigh Pitts
• Austin Renfroe
• Fred Robinson
• Brandon Russell
• Daniel Swain
• Tommy Thompson
• Vanessa Vernon
• Brian White
Contact Matt Quillen at email@example.com.