Hundreds compete at 36th annual Special Olympics

By Kyle Shaner kshaner@civitasmedia.com

May 12, 2014

GREENVILLE — Hundreds of student-athletes and volunteers descended upon Good Samaritan Stadium at Harmon Field on Monday for the 36th annual Darke County Special Olympics track and field meet.

All of Darke County’s school districts — Ansonia, Arcanum, Bradford, Franklin Monroe, Greenville, Mississinawa Valley, Tri-Village and Versailles — were represented by school-age competitors. Almost 350 athletes and unified partners (runners without disabilities on unified relays) competed in events including the standing long jump, running long jump, softball throw, beanbag, shot put, 50 meters, 100 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters and 4x100-meter relay.

“The kids come and have a good time,” Darke County Special Olympics Director Cindy Rose said. “The teachers come. Just every year this event is the best.”

There also were close to 100 volunteers including high school students from Greenville and Versailles, adult volunteers and awards presenters.

“Darke County still amazes not only with their monetary support of our program but with their time and talents to our program,” Rose said.

The Special Olympics originally were scheduled for Friday but with rain in the forecast, the event was postponed until Monday.

“Today was just a beautiful day,” Rose said. “Everyone is flexible. Our volunteers are just amazing.”

The support of the volunteers make the event possible each year, Rose said, and their flexibility to adjust to the schedule change was very helpful.

“When we rescheduled it, people said they couldn’t come,” Rose said. “And then they changed their schedule to come so we had more (volunteers) today than I had anticipated.”

This year’s competition was a milestone as it was the 10th year the Special Olympics were held during a school day. Changing the competition from a weekend to a weekday a decade ago has been extremely beneficial to the program, Rose said.

“It’s a complete cooperation from all the county schools, the superintendents, the principals,” she said. “It is a collaboration for them all to come and the bring the students on the school buses. It helps get them here when parents have commitments on the weekends.”

The track and field competition helped celebrate the end of the school year and the end of the program year for Darke County Special Olympics, which also sponsors softball and basketball teams.

“It’s a celebration of the end of the school year, the end of the program year,” Rose said. “Just a great day.”