BROOKVILLE — These kids are an inspiration for all of us. They demonstrate to us examples of incredible effort to achieve,” Brookville Superintendent Sandy Craft said at the start of the 33rd-annual DuBois-Jefferson County Special Olympics.
The games started Thursday morning, with youth from Brookville, Brockway, Punxsutawney, DuBois and private schools competing in track and field events and playing games in the Olympic Park.
The athletic field was filled with 187 athletes, 330 adult and student volunteers and 120 teachers and aides, according to Rikki Ross, track and field coordinator for DuBois-Jefferson County Special Olympics.
Ross said the past two months have seen sponsors and monetary donations secured to provide each athlete with lunch and a T-shirt, and preparation work at the athletic field.
“Today, May 5, 2011, is a day filled with much excitement and anticipation as each of our athletes contemplate in wonderment and hope for the results of the events of the day with many dreams of success,” Craft said.
“They are to be commended for participating in these grueling athletic events. Not everyone will be as successful as they hoped today, but they will remember the events of the day, their participation, and the support they have received from those who are attending. Let us all celebrate these great achievements.”
Some parents were in attendance, and for at least that day had more than just a chance to see their child win a blue ribbon.
Steve Pearce is the father of Kayla Pearce, a student at Mapleview Elementary School in the Punxsutawney Area School District. Pearce said Special Olympics gives a chance to “just have fun and be a kid” to youth whose lives are often more complicated than those of their classmates.
“I think this is terrific,” he said. “So often, everything that surrounds these kids is medical. With this, they get to just have fun, just like any other kids. It’s great to see them get out and have fun and not have to worry about doctors appointments and medications.”
The volunteers appreciate the experience as well. Many area high school students attended as event assistance and child volunteers.
“This is my first year to do this, but I’ve helped at Camp Friendship for the last two years,” Brookville senior high student Jenna Moore said. “It’s really fun. I just enjoy spending time with all of these kids. They are so curious, and every one of them is really friendly and really nice.”
Brookville student Kasie Pence agreed, saying, “I like the enthusiasm that they have. They don’t give up, and they keep trying.”
Pence said she is “really excited to see how into it they get and how well they’ll do.”
Ross encouraged more community members to get involved, and said the local Special Olympics organization will form a soccer league in August. Volunteers are needed, she said.
To volunteer, or for more information, call 849-2562 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .
The oath of Special Olympics is, “Let me win, but if I can not win, let me be brave in the attempt.”