Breaking a Sweat for a Great Cause

April 28, 2006 -- 3:30 PM CST


PARAGOULD, AR -- The Area 1 Special Olympics kicked off at Greene C ounty T ech H igh School, and over 200 athletes gathered to compete in track and field.


"I do events like, softball throw and standing long jump," said Charley Isom, who’s competing for the second year.   


The olympics started out with a parade, followed by the running of the torch and the lighting ceremony.


"It's just an accomplishment for everybody to be here," said Audrea King, Co-Director.  "These athletes give 150 percent every day, and this is their day to shine."


Athletes shined, and Co-Director Vonnie Greer dedicated the competition to her mentally handicapped sister who passed away 17 years ago.


"She just gave me so much...just being the special person that she was, and makes it to where I want to help these other special athletes," said Greer.   " They are just a pleasure to work with."   


Clara Newboles wants to ensure that her daughter's memory is kept alive.


"This all has been so awesome," said Newboles.  "Especially the doves this could see...those of us who have lost children...can see our children up there flying with them," she added.


About 20 events took place Friday.    There were wheelchair competitions, a walkers and crutches competition, along with several others; and athletes had a huge fan base to cheer them on.


"It is one of the most wonderful experiences that I've had in my life," said King.   " I get goose bumps...tears to my eyes...happiness," she said.   


King's happy because the Special Olympics is no ordinary race.


"There's a spirit of competition and sportsmanship here that I have not experienced at very many sporting events," she said.   


The spirit is what gave the athletes hope...hope, to keep pushing until they reached the finish line.