On Wednesday morning I covered some special athletes.
Over the years, as a sports editor and sports broadcaster, I have watched many top-notch high school and college athletes participate in sporting events.
When I watch these athletes – it can’t help but tug at the old heartstrings.
There were wide smiles as athletes stepped up on the podium and medals were hung around their necks.
Like many other counties, Mingo County held its annual Special Olympics this week. Student athletes from several schools donned their school colors like maroon, green and purple and went to the Burch Middle School football field to partake in various events.
These kids always have a lot of fun. There are other activities for them as well. Like other athletes, they get to travel on a big yellow school bus to the event with their teachers, volunteers and aides. They get lunch and they’re treated like any other athlete.
The best thing about the Special Olympics is that everyone is a winner. Each child that participates in a race, softball throw or other event receives a medal.
There are millions of special athletes around the world and especially in the United States.
For more than 43 years, Special Olympics has spread joy and excitement for students with disabilities. These games are a voice in educating others about these extraordinary kids.
Through these events, educators and families can combat the stereotypes that these young athletes and their parents deal with every day.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver helped found the Special Olympics that started in 1968.
At that time, she saw that these special athletes were excluded from participating in sports and other activities. They were often ignored and neglected.
Shriver had a sister, Rosemary, who had an intellectual disability. She and Rosemary grew up playing sports together and with their family. So Shriver saw first-hand of the obstacles these special athletes had to overcome.
And all these years later the event is held in almost every corner of the world.
The Special Olympics athlete’s oath is “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
Indeed that is a great pledge for these special athletes.
On Wednesday morning Mingo County Schools did their part for these students.
Special praise should be given to the teachers, volunteers and school personnel who work hard to organize this event.
I’m sure seeing all of those smiles were worth all of the effort.
(Kyle Lovern is the Sports Editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at email@example.com or at 304-235-4242, ext. 33 or Twitter @KyleLovern)