Big Sky Hosts Special Olympics

Athletes' Training Pays off in a Day of Fun and Pride

May 11, 2018

  They’re all lined up, ready to start when the flag goes down and go is shouted. The race has started. To most the athletes don’t seem to be going particularly fast, but to them, they’re flying. The crowd is going wild cheering on each and every one of the competitors, whether they know them or not. Their cheering provides incredible support for the racers, driving each one forward.

Two teens running on red track as spectators watch.

Athletes take off running! Photo by Maddie Crandall.

  This is simply the nature of the Special Olympics, fans and spectators come out just to see the awesome dedication each athlete puts into their event.

  The main goal of the games are for the athletes to show companionship and really just to enjoy competing. “We try not to stress winning, we try to stress things like good sportsmanship. Mostly we stress having fun.” says Wyann Northrop, special education teacher and Special Olympics coordinator.

  So much goes into putting on the games, it takes dedication from both the athletes and community. Competitors train in their P.E. classes, and have to go participate in the events they chose. Volunteers have to do thing such as train and register athletes, time races, send letters home to the families of athletes, chaperone, and make sure all the participants have everything they need throughout the games.

In a crowd, a man in a black jacket stares at a red object he has just thrown. The crowd looks also.

Spectators watch as an athlete throws a javelin. Photo by Maddie Crandall.

 All this hard work pays off when the games begin. The 2018 Five Valleys Area Spring Games kicked off on May 2 with the Opening Ceremonies. Athletes and volunteers were escorted on to the MCPS stadium track at Big Sky by police and led in a loop around the track. Once all the participants were making their way around, members of the Bikers Against Bullies, the sponsors of the games, rode out to greet everyone.

 

  After coming to a stop everyone stayed on the track and the Star Spangled Banner was sung by a Big Sky Junior. Then Bikers Against Bullies founder Flash spoke to the 

A young woman waves while walking on a track with an officer escorting her.

An athlete waves to the crowd in her Special Olympics gear. Photo by Maddie Crandall.

crowd of people watching. Finally the torch was presented and it was time for the events to start.


May 2 was solely a day of track and field, beginning with the throwing events, such as the javelin and softball throws. Athletes also competed in walking, running, wheelchair obstacle courses and races and long jump events. After all the events had finished there was a dinner and dance held at Big Sky.

 The next day was dedicated to Bocce, a game played in teams where the goal is to get your bocce balls closer to a small target called a pallina than your opponents.

 

uniformed men and women carry a flag on a red track.

The opening of the games. Photo by Maddie Crandall.

  The final day of the games were the swimming events, held at the YMCA pool.

 The tradition of the games began in July 1968 at Soldier Stadium in Chicago, this was the first International Special Olympics Games. Later that year the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation incorporated the Special Olympics.

 The movement began when Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister to John F. Kennedy, started a campaign to change the way people thought about mental disabilities shortly after President John F. Kennedy took office in 1961. Her goal gained credit when it was revealed that Rosemary Kennedy, a member of the Kennedy family had a mental disability of her own. Eunice and her husband began a summer day camp on their backyard for people with a mental disability.

 

 The athletes break the ribbon, signaling the end of the race. The crowd goes wild, the competitors have huge smiles on their faces. They did it.

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