Going for Gold: City, county students compete in Area 3 Special Olympics

Published 5:37 pm Thursday, April 27, 2017

“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
Elementary, high and middle schools from across the region embodied that specific message by the Tennessee Area 3 Thursday by participating in the organization’s annual Special Olympics competition inside the Mountain States Health Alliance Athletic Center on the East Tennessee State University campus.
Tennessee Area 3 Special Olympics co-Director Rachel Keller added Thursday continued to bring the fun and excitement of the event for athletes and attendees.
“We’ve got about 300 here today,” Keller said with a smile about the total of athletes. “There are students from each of the four counties — Washington, Carter, Johnson and Unicoi. We’ve had several types of races that went on today, like the walk races, the 50-meter dash, 100-meter dash, 200, 400, long jumps, ball throws … this is just a great day to bring all of our athletes together and make it all about them.”
Thursday started off with a bevy of activities during the opening ceremony. Each school participated in the “Parade of Athletes” march around the track while concluding in the center of the Minidome while the Olympic flame is carried for the event.
Keller thanked each participant for taking part in the event, including the host location.
“ETSU supports us for this event each year,” Keller said. “We’re so fortunate to have this facility that they allow us to use every year. We get a great volunteer base as well from ETSU students from different departments and different areas, (they) are such a huge component for these events.”
ETSU President Brian Noland and football coach Carl Torbush took part in the opening ceremony, along with the mayor and vice-mayor of Johnson City.
Once competitions received the greenlight, students from city and county schools scattered throughout the Minidome in the hopes of bringing home some gold.
Forrest Holt, special education instructor at Elizabethton High School, said the students always enjoy a chance to show their stuff inside the dome.
“This is actually my third year coming as a teacher for the Special Olympics,” Holt said. “I’m sure Elizabethton has been competing for many years. It’s just a fun time. All of the students look forward to this day all year long. We don’t realize how much until you’re on the bus ride here and they’ll start to get excited, yelling and cheering, to get ready for the day. It’s such a fun time.”
Another change, Holt added, was the event being broken up into two separate days.
“We only had school districts competing today,” he said. “It made things so much smoother.”
Visit www.specialolympicstn-area3.org to learn more about the Special Olympics in Northeast Tennessee.

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