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2022 Arkansas Special Olympics kick off

The 2022 Arkansas Special Olympics will conclude Friday, May 13.
The 2022 Arkansas Special Olympics will conclude Friday, May 13.(Source: KARK-TV)
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 8:20 PM CDT
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SEARCY, Ark. (KARK/KAIT) - The Arkansas Special Olympics kicked off Thursday morning, drawing thousands of athletes from across the state to the two-day event at Harding University.

Athletes trained all year to compete in several events, including powerlifting, swimming, track and field, and flag football, with the chance to win medals and travel to a national competition in Orlando.

Powerlifter Karly Pratchard has competed in the Special Olympics five times, training twice a week to build the strength needed to win.

“It’s pretty amazing,” she told content partner KARK. “We do deadlifts and benches, and then the next day, we do like leg stuff.”

Thursday, Pratchard competed in deadlifting, bench presses, and weighted squats - events carefully monitored by coach Casie Dawson.

Dawson and Pratchard will both move from the Arkansas event to the USA games in Orlando this June.

“It’s an incredible thing to witness,” Dawson told KARK. “They show up every day with a smile on their face, cheering each other on, cheering themselves on. That inspires me to do better.”

Pratchard said the best part is the community, with the designated team “cheerleader” gaining friends and teammates for life every time she competes.

“This is my family,” she said. “I’ve been part of this family for five or six years and won’t have it any other way.”

The 2022 Arkansas Special Olympics will conclude Friday, May 13.

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