WEST ALEXANDRIA — Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt, is the oath of the Special Olympics.
The Preble County Special Olympics Track and Field event is held once each year, usually the first Saturday of May. Due to rain, this year’s event was held on Saturday, May 20, at Twin Valley South.
The event is held for individuals with developmental disabilities. Anyone school age to 100 years old can participate. Events include wheelchair races (both assisted and unassisted,) running and walking events, and relay races with distances of 50 to 800 meters.
The typical track and field day starts with a parade through town. This year Shannon Hunter performed the National Anthem, followed by West Alexandria Mayor Carol Lunsford reading a proclamation.
Those in attendance took a moment of silence to honor the individuals who had passed away this year, who were a part of Special Olympics or who volunteered to the cause.
According to Special Olympics Coordinator Regina Fullmer, the track and field event is important to the participating athletes because it gives them an opportunity to showcase their abilities.
“The day is just for them,” Fullmer said. “It is not about their disability, but about their abilities. Each athlete competes in the events that they have chosen. It is a competition, but it isn’t about if you win or lose. It is about doing your best with the abilities they have. Families get to share in their accomplishments and in their joy as they succeed in their accomplishments.”
Fullmer added, “I love to see the athletes excited about their day. They are proud of themselves and love to show their abilities. I like everything about the day. The joy I see in the eyes of each athlete as they compete and receive their awards makes every moment spent in planning the event worthwhile.”
Fullmer sent out 100 letters requesting donations and they received donations from 24 area businesses. Donations are the sole manner by which the event is funded.
Donors for the event included Disciples of Empathy MC, Preble County Board of DD, Eagle Fence and Construction, Inc., L&M Products, Inc., Weber’s Body & Frame, Miley Construction Services, Timken Steel, James E Ryan with American Legion Post #322, The Home Farms in Camden, Gratis F.O.E. #4289, Your Happy Place, Inc., Larkin Cobb Chevrolet-Buick-GMC, Roselius Insurance, Quaker Trace Tractor, Inc., Valley Carpet Center, LLC., The Greeenbriar Senior Living Campus, Dayton Children’s Hospital, The Twin Valley Bank, Parker Hannifin, First Impression Wear, LCNB Foundation, Lawn Care Plus, Michael Murphy Insurance, and Omicron Sigma Sorority.
They also received help from community members. Preble County Commissioner Chris Day was the head of all the track events. Commissioner Denise Robertson also attended. The West Alexandria Police and Fire Department participated in the parade. There were approximately 70 volunteers who helped out on Saturday. All of the planning and preparation was done by volunteers.
“I would like to thank the listed donors and all of the volunteers, many hours were devoted to making this event extra special for our Special Athletes,” Fullmer added.
Everyone who participated in Special Olympics received a ribbon. The top three athletes in each event also received a gold, silver, or bronze medal. A total of 68 athletes signed up for the Olympics, but not all were able to participate due to the change of date. Even if they were unable to compete, all athletes who signed up received a t-shirt.
According to Fullmer, they are always looking for volunteers to help with Special Olympics. They have a basketball team, a cheerleader squad, a softball team, and several Special Olympics events that could use volunteers. The next event currently being planned is a bowling tournament. Organizers would like to form a swim team or bowling team for competition, as well, she said.
Anyone interested in serving on the Special Olympics Committee can contact Fuller at 937-470-3670. Donations are tax deductible and can be made out to Special Olympics of Ohio, Preble County. The mailing address is Special Olympics Preble County, P.O. Box 273, Eaton, OH 45320.
Fullmer added, “People with disabilities have a lot of abilities and they need to be able to show ‘Their Stuff.’ The people of Preble County need to be made aware of the programs that are available. We truly could use more volunteers!”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH