WEST ALEXANDRIA — Preble County Special Olympics took over West Alexandria and Twin Valley Community Schools for the annual Track and Field event on Saturday, May 5.
This is an event held all across the state of Ohio in the early spring, according to Preble County Special Olympics Coordinator Regina Fullmer.
At the event, there are field events which include the long jump (four heats), shot put (four heats), bean bag throw (five heats), tennis ball throw (five heats), and softball throw (14 heats).
There were also track events including the: 10 M Assisted Walk, 30 M Wheelchair Slalom (unassisted), 50 M Wheelchair (assisted) (two heats), 50 M Wheelchair (unassisted), 50 M Run (four heats), 100 M Run (three heats), 100 M Walk (eight heats), 200 Meter Run, 400 Meter Run (two heats), 400 Meter Walk, 800 Meter Walk, and 4 x 100 Team Relay (three teams).
Sixty-one individuals registered to compete, while 57 actually completed. Their ages ranged from seven 72 years old.
“Special Olympics Preble County is a group of people that fall under the guidelines, rules, and regulations of the Special Olympics of Ohio. We are funded solely by donations made from local business and people that believe in Special Olympics,” Fullmer said.
“It is operated totally by volunteers. Special Olympics is needed in Preble County so that individuals in Preble County that have developmental disabilities can compete in activities just as people without disabilities can. We offer a Basketball Team, Softball Team, and Skills Team. We would love to start a bowling league, but need sponsors and coaches,” she continued.
“Each year we hold the annual Track and Field Day. For the last several years it has been hosted at Twin Valley South Track and Football field. Throughout the year we also have a bowling tournament, a formal dance, and we host the annual Generals vs Cougars game held in March.”
The planning for Track and Field Day starts early, in January or early February. In March, they send out letters asking for donations and registration forms to all the DD individuals. Each person who participates must have a physical completed by a physician on file with Special Olympics of Ohio. Volunteers are also recruited.
The Track and Field event, as all Special Olympics events, would not be possible without support from the community. Twin Valley South hosts the day, with West Alexandria leaders (Mayor Carol Lunsford, Fire and EMS, Police Department, and Celebration Committee) volunteering their time. Every year these individuals participate in the parade which precedes the track event.
Preble County leaders also helped the event to be successful, with Preble County Commissioner Chris Day leading the track events and Commissioner Rodney Creech announcing for the day.
The following people or groups donated money, goods or services to cover the cost of the day: American Legion Post 360 Charity Fund, American Legion 360 Legion Riders 360, Bethany Schultz, Cash Advance, Cencraft Awards, Dayton Childrens Hospital, Gratis FOE #4289, Home Farms, The Hunter Family, L & M Products, Lawn Plus LLC, Medpro, Michael Murphy Insurance Agency, Miley Construction Services, Omicron Sigma Sorority, Papa Johns Pizza, Parker Hannifin, Post 322 Charity Fund, Preble County Power Equipment & Rental LLC, Quaker Trace Tractor Inc, Roselius Insurance Agency, Sons of the American Legion 360, Webers Body & Frame, Timken Steel, and Warren County Foundation Depository.
Bob and Darlene Combs donated their time to serve as Grand Marshals of the parade.
According to Fullmer, everyone who participated received either a participation ribbon or a medal. During the event, Volunteers of the Year were also recognized. The first Volunteer of the Year was Tim Lane, who coaches the basketball team, the skills team, and the softball team.
Laura Skiles was the second Volunteer of the Year. According to Fullmer, she has given well over 100 hours in planning this year’s events, including the formal dance, the bowling tournament, Track and Field Day and the Generals vs. Cougars basketball game.
Both individuals will receive trophies at a later date.
Fullmer added, “I want to thank every volunteer that helped make the day extra special for the Special Olympians. We could not have made the day happen without each one of the volunteers. It really makes me smile when the volunteers that may have been a little apprehensive to volunteer for the first time, comes up to me and says put me down for next year, I loved it! If there is anyone that wants to volunteer for an event, for a day or as a coach please email email@example.com.”
“We do this to give each athlete a bright spot in their lives,” she said. “It usually ends up that we receive more blessing as volunteers that we can ever imagine. What I like best about the day is to see the individuals accomplishments and seeing the smiles on their faces. Several DD individuals come just for the fellowship of other individuals. Its a social thing for them. Which is what we want to see.”
“The more friends the individuals have the more support they have,” she continued. “It never ceases to amaze me that these individuals that are burden with a handicap all of their lives, seldom complain and always seem to look on the brighter side of live. They enjoy the small things in live that we take for granted. They are a blessing and I am blessed to be a part of such a great group of people.”
She added, donations cover the awards and medals throughout the entire year (it’s a major expense for track and field day), shirts for the athletes and volunteers, lunch for the athletes, costs of the tent and chair rental, the cost of the custodian at the school, copying fees, entry fees, equipment, uniforms for all the other teams, cost of the Generals vs. Cougars game, cost for cheerleader uniforms, travel for the athletes to away games, postage, post office box and other rentals when needed, and miscellaneous items needed for the bowling tournament and formal dance.
Every donation is appreciated and donations can be made at any time and are tax deductible. Checks should be made out to Special Olympics Preble County and mailed to P.O. Box 273, Eaton, OH 45320.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH