The Jim Thorpe Area High School stadium was the setting for the Special Olympics in which athletes competed in a wide variety of track and field events that were appropriate to the age and disability level of each individual.
Athletes from three different participating counties in Pennsylvania: Carbon, Luzerne, and Columbia/Montour counties, participated in the events which were appropriately held in conjunction with the annual community celebration honoring Olympian Jim Thorpe on his birthday.
The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disability.
It gives them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympic athletes and the community.
The eager Olympians put everything they had into the 69 heats covering eight events which netted the Special Olympics athletes 139 medals and ribbons during the competition.
While the winning athletes received the traditional medals for finishing in first, second, or third place, all athletes from fourth to last received a participant's ribbon for competing in an event.
In attendance for the events was State Rep. Doyle Heffley, 122nd District, who said "I think that this is a wonderful program, the athletes are doing a phenomenal job."
"I'm happy to stop by and watch and I would encourage as many people as possible to get involved in programs like this."
Rep/ Heffley finished by saying "It's very rewarding and its great to be here, to see the dedication of the athletes and the volunteers, this is a great organization."
Qualifying athletes from all of Pennsylvania will complete the season on June 6, 7, 8 and 9 during Summer Games competition at Penn State University.
The master of ceremonies for most of the event was Dave Rodrigues, Competition Coordinator for Special Olympics of Carbon County.
Dave was assisted by a number of coaches, officials, and volunteer assistants without whose time and help, the competition would not have been possible.
The Special Olympics of Carbon County is always welcoming new volunteers and coaches.
Anyone who may be interested in moreinformation on Special Olympics and volunteering can visit their website at specialolympicscarboncounty.com.