Debbie Roach, an exceptional childrenâ€™s (EC) teacher at G.E. Massey Elementary School, looks on with pride as Mitchell Reel competes in the 50-meter dash.
Years ago, Reel, 12, couldnâ€™t walk. This year he competed on his own two feet.
â€œHe has made tremendous progress,â€ said Roach.
Roach and EC teacher Lisa Jenkins agree that the Special Olympics Spring Games are a great experience.
Jenkins went to the event Friday to watch her seven students compete. She laughed when talking about one of her students, who had been counting down to the event for a week.
â€œThey were so excited this morning,â€ said Jenkins. â€œItâ€™s a real highlight for them.â€
Participants competed in various events from running and jumping, to throwing for distance.
All participants win awards â€“ metals and ribbons donned with the Special Olympics motto of â€œskill, courage, sharing, joy.â€
Each competitor walked around the track with their schedules and buddies, student volunteers who make sure the Special Olympians are in the right place at the right time.
But the event wasnâ€™t all about competition. Teachers had time to catch up with their students. Parents watched their children participate, and activities were in place for free time.
Competitors and their buddies made bead necklaces and danced to music that boomed from the DJâ€™s speakers.
Lisa Frazier, Special Olympics coordinator for Lincoln County, felt the event was a great success with more than 250 athletes competing.
The stands erupted with applause during each race. Parents, friends, teachers and visitors cheered on the competitors, many of whom smiled throughout the competitions.
Roach said the experience is always uplifting for her.â€œTheyâ€™re happy with whatever they win,â€ she said. â€œEveryone should come to see Special Olympics. Itâ€™s so wonderful to see the effort these kids make to do things we take for granted.â€by Diane Turbyfill