More than 200 student athletes from schools across the county will gather at Gordon Central High School later this month, weather permitting, for a day of laughing, playing, and competing in the annual fall Special Olympics.
The event was originally scheduled for Wednesday but was pushed due to the possibility of rain, according to Calhoun City Schools Director of Exceptional Student Services Hayley Gilreath, who helped organize the event. A make up date is being determined by the school at this time and will be announced soon.
On the day of the makeup competition, events will kick-off at 9:30 a.m. with a parade around the track. The games themselves will start at 10 a.m. The event is free and open to the public, and people are encouraged to come out and support the Special Olympics athletes.
At least 100 volunteers, primarily made up of students from local high schools, will be working to ensure the day runs smoothly by setting up tents, marking off areas for various events, and helping set-up the games throughout the day. They will also participate by cheering on the athletes during the activities.
“Getting our volunteers out and interacting with the athletes is one of the best parts of our event, I think. Our high school students get the opportunity to come out and experience what it’s like to help these students who aren’t exactly like them,” Gilreath said. “It’s also really nice for our athletes to get to spend the day with our volunteers, just having fun and enjoying themselves. It’s a great partnership.”
Competitors will be able to take part in 25 and 50-meter dashes, a 100-meter run, a wheelchair race, shot put, the softball toss, relay races, and developmental games designed specifically, Gilreath said, for students who struggle with physical games. There will also be a new area this year called ‘Olympic Town,’ where students can get their hair painted, face painted, or receive fake tattoos.
After the games, lunch will be provided and students will return to the classroom to finish the day at school.
“It’s a day that they really enjoy,” Gilreath said. “It’s something that many of them look forward to for weeks and weeks before it happens, and I am just really happy and proud that we are able to pull it off every year for them.”