Special to the Item
The Picayune Item
The Kiwanis Club of Picayune are once again sponsoring the Special Olympics, which will be held on Thursday at Picayune Memorial High School, beginning at 8:45 a.m. and ending at noon.
The late H. G. McAdoo, Sr., a Kiwanis member, whose son Bob McAdoo (now 60 years-of-age) is mentally challenged, was instrumental in establishing the Special Olympics event in Picayune and advocated on behalf of the mentally and physically challenged for many years.
Special Olympics liaison Katherine Clough said, “The track and field competitions, patterned on the World Olympics, include an opening ceremony and parade of athletes, foot races, wheelchair races, assisted walks, standing and running long jumps, 50- and 100-meter dashes, softball and tennis ball throws. As winners progress, they have other events open to them at other venues.
“This event draws athletes from Pearl River County, and requires assistance from many volunteers and sponsors to make the day a success.
Kiwanis President Paul Reese said, “We’re looking forward to good participation from our group and both Picayune Memorial and PRC (High School) schools. This is an important event which all involved look forward to every year. The weather is predicted to be beautiful, so we anticipate a wonderful day.”
The mission of the Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic type sports for all individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in sharing their gifts, skills, and friends with their families, other Special Olympians, and the community.
Through successful experiences in sports, Olympians gain confidence and build a positive self-image that carries over into the classroom, the home, the job, and the community.
Competitors such as life-long friends, Amanda Schommer and Ryan Lee have been attending the Special Olympics since 1990. It has been a constant in their lives. Schommer competes in the 50 meter dash and softball throw events.
Lee competes in the softball throw and 100 meter dash. He says he likes to throw the ball and run.
Both enjoy the parade and marching in the opening ceremonies.
Stacey Lee, the mother of Ryan, says, “They enjoy the opening ceremonies as much as they enjoy the sports themselves. That’s a lot. When it is over, they get to go to the podium and get their award. It is really special. They also attend the Stennis Special Olympics where the top two placements in each sport get to move on to compete at the state level.”
So far, neither Lee nor Schommer have placed first or second at Stennis, but each are eager to go and enjoy the day’s competition, says Stacey Lee.
Reese says, “It is an honor and a privilege to serve in facilitating the Special Olympics. I believe as volunteers we take away so much more than the competitors.”