Special Olympics will put the biggest smile on your face

Published 6:24 pm Friday, April 1, 2016

I had the privilege to cover the Special Olympics Track and Field event Friday morning at the Bainbridge High School gymnasium, and everybody there had the biggest smile on their face, including me.

It wasn’t just seeing the camaraderie of the 92 special needs participants as they cheered and lifted each other up all morning. It wasn’t just the incredible amount of genuine, excited student volunteers guiding, high-fiving and laughing with the participants. It wasn’t just the generous donation from the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office so this event can continue to exist in the future.

It was all of that, and the fact that rain or shine, these kids are going to have a blast because of the people who put this event together every year.

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I have to give a huge round of applause to Wanda Thomas, chairman of Decatur County Special Olympics, and all of the volunteers who planned well enough to move this gigantic day into the BHS gymnasium. What could easily have been a headache went smoothly, and I don’t think the participants minded they weren’t outside. The gym was cool and comfortable, not too hot.

What makes Special Olympics so… well, special, is that smile I was talking about.

This event is an opportunity for special needs kids to participate in a way they normally wouldn’t be able to. They can put on their gym shorts, T-shirts, tennis shoes and sweat bands and compete with each other like an actual track and field meet. And man, do they love it.

Whether they are sprinting as fast as they can during one of the dashes, kicking a soccer ball and sending it soaring straight into a net or testing their arm strength at the softball throwing station, these kids were having a certain kind of fun; the kind of fun that is contagious.

Providing the kinds of opportunities that Special Olympics provides kids in this community is a true blessing. From everybody, top to bottom, that was involved in this year’s track and field event, you did a fantastic job. The organization couldn’t be in better hands.