More than 300 athletes compete in Special Olympics Spring Games in Presque Isle

12 years ago

More than 300 athletes compete in

Special Olympics Spring Games in Presque Isle

By Jon Gulliver

Staff Writer

    PRESQUE ISLE — Under a brilliant blue sky a record number of athletes took to the track at the Johnson Athletic Complex at the Presque Isle Middle School for the 36th annual Special Olympics Spring Games on Friday.

Staff photo/Jon Gulliver

    THE TORCH — Deanna Stone sp-specialolympics-dc3-arsh-21 of Fort Fairfield Middle/High School lights the torch at the annual Special Olympics Spring Games held in Presque Isle last Friday.

    Event chair Steve Richard said more than 300 athletes took part in the events, which included the softball throw, long jump and sprint competitions.

    For many the anticipation of the Spring Games is great according to Richard.

    “It means an awful lot not only to the athletes but to the families and all of the volunteers,” Richard said. “It is a chance to get together to show the athletic ability of the Special Olympians that live in Aroostook County.”

    Not only were there a record number of athletes but an army of volunteers as well.

    “We have more than 150 National Honor Society students helping out and dozens of volunteers from the community, which is absolutely fantastic,” he said.

    “There is a lot of behind the scenes stuff going on to stage an event like this,” Richard added. “You have to put 300 athletes into a database, and other logistics and it is all done by volunteers. There is no paid staff in Special Olympics in Aroostook County.”

    Patti Lunn of Mars Hill has been volunteering at the softball throw for about 13 years and there is a simple reason she comes back every spring.

Staff photo/Jon Gulliver

    LONG JUMP — Kaitlyn Boyce of Presque Isle Middle School takes part in the standing long jump during the Special Olympics Spring Games in Presque Isle last Friday.  sp-specialolympics-dc4-sh-21

    “Because of the smile on all the athletes’ faces,” she said. “It is all worth it. Every minute of it.”

    Michelle Blackstone is a member of the Special Olympics Area Management Team. For her the day is very special.

    “It’s a big day for all the athletes and all the volunteers,” she said. “A lot of athletes are really excited to participate, get outside and see friends they may not have seen in a while.”

    Winners at the Aroostook Spring Games are eligible to compete at the Special Olympics Maine Spring Games, which will be held June 8 to 10 at the University of Maine in Orono. Top finishers there go on to compete at the national Special Olympics.

    The mission of Special Olympics Maine and Special Olympics Aroostook County is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving 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 Olympics athletes and the community.