Saturday began the first day of competition for the 2017 Special Olympics Colorado Summer Games.
“I like them because I can run fast,” said track and field athlete Mindy Angell.
For Mindy and her father Kevin, the Special Olympics are a family affair.
“It’s really special watching all these kids,” said Kevin Angell. “If you get a chance to come out, there’s just tear-jerking moment after another. But just getting to watch your own kid do this, and see how much fun she has, and enjoys it. It’s just really very much of a blessing to me.” Angell is a volunteer track starter for the 2017 Summer Games.
The athletes, volunteers, and spectators are all there for the fun of it, but many athletes take the competition seriously. John Iniego trained for months to complete the 5,000 meter race in under twenty minutes.
“I finally broke my 5K record,” said Iniego. “Proud, and next year I’m trying to break it down to 19 next year.”
Over 1,000 athletes will compete in this year’s Colorado Summer Games and coaches and volunteers are what makes this all possible. Sherry Camp and Eduard Wos have been coaching Special Olympics for over 20 years.
“It’s good to see them start from not being able to do things to really excelling in their sports,” said Camp.
“Same thing, watching these kids who’ve never done anything come out, compete, and they just have a blast,” said Wos. “And year after year they get better.”
Jamie Wallace is a former Special Olympics athlete who now helps coach.
“I love coaching,” said Wallace. “I just love being around the athletes.”
And their team has plenty of fun.
“I like bowling and track and field,” said track and field athlete Jackye Crosby. “But I have fun.”
“I met all my friends in Special Olympics,” said track and field athlete Kimberly Fisher-Wallace.
Jeff Warr, who has been competing in Special Olympics for fifteen years, sums up Special Olympics best.
“Try my best and go out there and have some fun,” said Warr. “Show what I got, and that’s about it.”