MASON — Everyone was a winner when the Mason County Special Olympics marked its 50th anniversary with the annual field day on Friday.
Held at Wahama High School, each athlete participating was awarded a medal, as well as a backpack filled with goodies. From preschool through adult, participants competed in cornhole, bocce ball, tug of war, wheelchair races and football throw, among others. Athletes were also treated to face painting, crafts, and a visit by the Special Olympics mascot bulldog.
AEP was recognized during the event for being the corporate sponsor in Mason County for the entire 50 years. The company provided the backpacks given out to the athletes, as well as a pizza lunch, drinks, and water throughout the day, according to Aleta Flora, Olympics county coordinator. Many of the AEP employees also attended the event to assist.
Also helping at the Olympics were Wahama High School students, who served as either a “buddy” for each athlete or operated a field event.
They included Ethan VanMatre, Jackson Hall, Chesnie Brinker, Emily Mattox, Leah Hoffman, Abbie Lieving, Jacqueline Fields, Victoria VanMatre, Grace Haddox, Harley Roush, Emma Gibbs, Bryce Meadows, Mary Roush, Isaac Roush, Owen Richardson, Adriana Boswell, Kelsey Hickel, Briana Roush, Lillian Karr, Lauren Fields, Olivia Johnson,
Aubree Johnson, Camryn Tyree, Bryce Fields, Nick Brewer, Abram Pauley, Alexis Mick, Mackenzie Barr, Skylar Riffle, Logan Eads, Michela Williamson, Courtney Rickard, Abby Taylor, Mariah Young, Trinity Neal, Kyher Bush, Payton McFarland, Chloe Robinson, Ashton Broughman, Cara Russell, and Olivia Brooks.
Longtime Special Olympics volunteers were presented plaques, although some were unable to attend. Among the honored was Janet Cunningham, who has been a volunteer for the past 47 years. Others included Bill and Sue Hussell, Mike and Linda Stanley, Lonnie and Pam Bryan, Donna Slayton, Julie Jeffries, Rita Mace, Melody MacKnight, Minnie Fowler, and Mary Thompson.
Flora said the county Special Olympics provides year-round activities for participants, including basketball, cheerleading, bocce, bowling, golf, football, volleyball and others. The sports are practiced at various times throughout the year. She added new athletes are always welcomed into the program, and to qualify a participant must have an IEP or a diagnosed intellectual disability.
Local Olympians are currently getting ready to attend the State Summer Games Competition, according to Flora. Practices for flag football, football skills and volleyball will begin in August.
For more information, contact Flora at 304-563-1734 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. The organization can also be found on Facebook at Mason County Special Olympics.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at email@example.com.