Gordon County Special Olympics has had a busy week with many activities throughout the area to recognize the wonderful residents that offer so much to our community.

On Tuesday, Dec. 6, athletes from Calhoun City Schools, Gordon County Schools, George Chambers Resource Center and Gordon County Masters all gathered at the Calhoun Bowling Center to participate in the Winter Olympics.

“Each athlete bowled at least two games, and ribbons were awarded to those who finished in first through fifth place,” said Joey Marycz, Public Relations co-chair of the Gordon County Special Olympics. “After the event, athletes, teachers and volunteers were treated to pizza, compliments of Special Olympics.”

“Everyone had a great time,” continued Marycz. “It is nice to see the community come together to cheer on all of our athletes.”

According to their website, Special Olympics is a global movement of people creating a new world of inclusion and community, where every single person is accepted and welcomed, regardless of ability or disability. The goal is to make the world a better, healthier and more joyful place one athlete, one volunteer and one family member at a time.

Athletes of Special Olympics are children and adults with intellectual disabilities from all around the world. According to the Special Olympics organization, these athletes are finding success, joy and friendship being part of the global community, along with having lots of fun.

Special Olympics recognizes that intellectual disabilities happen in all cultures, races and countries. The goal of Special Olympics is to reach out to the almost 200 million people in the world with ID. Through sports, athletes are seeing themselves for their abilities, not disabilities. Special Olympics opens the door to world for the athlete’s by providing an atmosphere of acceptance and understanding. The athletes become confident and empowered by their accomplishments in Special Olympics. The athletes make new friends being part of the most inclusive community on the planet comprised of 4.7 Special Olympics athletes ages eight and up. These athletes come from 169 countries.

Special Olympics began in Gordon County in 1984 and now has 150 athletes that participate.

“Special Olympics is the most important thing that our athletes get to participate in their lifetime other than school and home,” said Sue Morgan of Gordon County Masters. Gordon County Masters is a program for athletes that do not belong to the George Chambers Center and no longer attend school.

Following the Winter Games, on Wednesday, Dec. 7, the American Legion Paul Gwin Post 47 and the Ladies Auxiliary of American Legion Paul Gwin Post 47 treated the Special Olympic athletes to a victory dance that included lunch, karaoke and a visit and gifts from Santa Claus.

“We are a Veteran’s organization trying to give back to the community,” said Bruce Henderson, commander of American Legion Paul Gwin Post 47. “In December each year, we host a Christmas party with lunch, Santa and karaoke for all the participants. We support many events in the community, but this, along with the Gordon County Veterans Dinner, are our two biggest sponsorships. The Special Olympics are very dear to us and we are honored to offer our support to them.”

“The bowling event was the biggest and best in several years and the dance was fantastic,” said Morgan.”

Another Special Olympics partnership with then local American Legion is the annual Track & Field event. “In May, we go to Gordon Central High School for the track & field event, and the two days following that event, we host all the athletes at the American Legion for lunch and a party,” said Henderson.

The Gordon County Special Olympics Leadership Committee is very thankful for the partnership with the local American Legion, including the Ladies Auxiliary, for their support of the Special Olympics programs for many years, both in donations, hosting parties and for volunteering during at the games.

The Committee has been working hard and is excited with a new upcoming event that has been in the planning stages for a while. “Gordon County Special Olympics Leadership Committee met a couple weeks ago with Georgia Special Olympic, from Atlanta, and we went through an extensive basketball skills training,” said Marycz. “We are excited to announce, and are very much looking forward to our new Special Olympics event, Basketball Skills, hosted by Calhoun City Schools next year in March.”

The Basketball Skills event is tentatively scheduled for March 2, 2017.

Gordon County Special Olympics has been a huge help for many in the community. Calhoun resident Carrie Key has been a key supporter of Gordon County Special Olympics. Her daughter, Grace, is a special needs student at Calhoun High School. “Special Olympics has been an important part of Grace’s life for the last 11 years,” said Carrie. “As a parent, I’m thankful for the sports opportunities it provides to Grace and enjoy watching all the Olympians compete. Exceptionally gifted athletes are limited in opportunities to play and compete in sports and Special Olympics helps to fill in that gap.

“It’s a time exceptional youth and adult athletes from every area of our county come together for friendly competition and camaraderie,” continued Key. “I love going to the competitions and seeing all our schools represented, along with our many adult Olympians from all over Calhoun and Gordon County. It gives me pride as a parent and a citizen of Calhoun. Over the last 11 years since Grace started competing, we have had two yearly competitions, bowling in the fall hosted by Calhoun Bowling Center and track and field in spring hosted by Gordon Central High School. The athletes love it and know it is their time to shine. The outpouring of support for Special Olympics is so appreciated. It is my hope that, going forward, exceptionally gifted athletes of our community will have more and more opportunities to participate in a broad spectrum of sports activities.”

The community is always invited to the athletic events of the local Special Olympics. “We would love to pack the stands at CHS on March 2 at 9 a.m. for the Basketball Skills event, so the athletes will have support and be cheered on as they compete,” said Key. “It would mean so much to them.”

For anyone who would like to learn more about Gordon County Special Olympics or contact the organization to help with sponsorship or volunteering, please visit their Facebook page Special Olympics Gordon County. You can also find upcoming events on the page.

This year’s bowling event was the largest in the last few years and Marycz is pleased with the results. “We want to thank everyone involved in making this event a success.”