Student athletes medal in Special OlympicsBy Emily Beckett Published 6:09pm Thursday, May 2, 2013
Nearly 100 students competed in track and field events Thursday morning at Clanton City Park in the 32nd annual Chilton County Special Olympics.
After opening ceremonies at 9:30 a.m., students vied for first- and second-place ribbons in five different events: softball throw, tennis ball throw, soccer kick, and girls and boys track races.
Dozens of parents and supporters gathered around each event to watch the athletes compete in physical activities that, for some, would have been extremely difficult in the past.
Maplesville fourth grader Pattrick Abbott, 10, ran to his mother, Linda, after winning the 25-meter boys track event and asked if she was proud of him.
She hugged him tightly and said “yes” as they walked across the park to his next event, the tennis ball throw.
“He couldn’t walk till he was 5, so this really is something special,” Linda Abbott said. “I have constant tears in my eyes. It really is breathtaking to see.”
Abbott said her son was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Coffin Siris Syndrome in which he experiences muscle weakness, slow physical growth and early developmental delays.
Abbott said Pattrick no longer has to wear leg braces, allowing him to run and participate in events at Special Olympics.
“He has been here every year since preschool,” Abbott said. “He never misses a year. We have lots of ribbons.”
Skyler Pearce, 20, was another student competing in Thursday’s Special Olympics.
Pearce, a senior at Chilton County High School, placed first in the softball throw and second in the 50-meter run.
“It’s such a special time to come watch,” said his mother, Kristie Pearce. “It makes him so happy.”
Pearce was honored during closing ceremonies along with two other seniors, Brittany Carpenter and Bryant Hubbard.
All athletes received medals for participating.
Special Olympics organizers Michelle Coppedge and Sheri McKee received assistance from students in the Jemison High School SGA and the Chilton County High School SGA.
Coppedge, who has helped organize Special Olympics for three years now, said she thought this year’s event was a success.
“It’s the best day of the year, by far,” Coppedge said. “In a world that says sometimes they don’t measure up athletically or they don’t measure up academically … when they’re here, they measure up. Everybody’s a winner.”