By Angela Peacock
Wearing an ear-to-ear grin and sporting her Special Olympics T-shirt she receive at the state competition in Albuquerque May 30-31 athlete Stephanie Parks explained her recent athletic experience.
“The best part was going and getting out of town,” said Parks, describing what she was thinking during her competition. “I was just thinking about the food at the end of the line, and I did real good cause Christina (Special Olympics coach) told me I left all those other women in the dust.”
Watching the expressions on children’s faces during a Special Olympics competition makes volunteering well worth while for Special Olympics coach Cornell Evans.
Evans first got involved with the program because he knew they needed the help, but said now he’d encourage anyone who loves coaching or sports to become a volunteer.
“Watching a Special Olympics competition isn’t anything you can read about in a newspaper you have to be there to get the full experience,” Evans said. “A lot of the (athletes) have a lot more ability than people give them credit for, and the competition gives them a sense of purpose. It lets them know they can compete and that they’re not forgotten.”
Being part of an program which allows lesser privileged children to participate in sports activities that other children get to play is rewarding to Evans, who believes other people would find the program just as fulfilling if they’d just give it a chance.
“When I first got into volunteering I was a little skeptical. Then when I actually saw what it was all about I thought it was something I should have doing a long time ago,” said Evans, describing how he feels about being a Special Olympics coach. “It’s really hard to put into words you just have to experience it for yourself.”
Volunteering with Special Olympics is also very fulfilling for coach Christine Brito who said she loves spending time with the athletes because she knows they are good honest people.
“To watch them participate and get excited about what they’re doing is unbelievable I can’t even describe the feelings it brings out to be there and share in that special time with the athletes,” Brito said.
Quay County Special Olympics state competition results
Marta Griego: bronze metal in the 100 meter run and a gold metal in the softball throw
Todd Hatterman: gold metal in the 100 meter run and a silver metal in the softball throw
George McCandless: gold metal in bocce ball
Special Olympics athletes who qualified for the state competition but who weren’t able to attend: Wanita Paiz, Lawrence Cordova and Bunker Breen.