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Hundreds compete in count#039;s Special Olympics

ELIZABETH TOWNSHIP- "Let me win and, if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt," the oath for the Special Olympics reads.

For some 400 Lawrence County students, taking that oath Friday morning was a testament to hours of hard work. The annual Lawrence County Special Olympics drew students, parents, teachers and volunteers from eight local districts. This year the Rock Hill school district hosted the event.

"Even though these kids are handicapped, they can still take part in activities that regular kids take part in and be successful," Rock Hill special education teacher Veronica Justice said. "This is an important part of their lives."

It is a day many students look forward to all year long, Symmes Valley special education teacher Donna Baldwin said.

"They love it. This is their chance to compete and hopefully win," she said.

For Bonnie Bryant, an 11-year-old Symmes Valley student, the day-long event was a chance to show off her athletic prowess.

"I just like building up my muscles," she said. "And I like coming here and having fun."

Bryant confessed to be "a little nervous" but ready to compete nonetheless.

"It gives the children the feeling that they have accomplished something, that they are part of Rock Hill athletics," said teacher Jeanette McFann. "They've worked hard practicing for this."

While the athletes took their place son the field, anxious and proud family members sat watching from the stands. Kim and Rick Richendollar came to see their son, Derrick, a Fairland student, compete.

"We've been coming ever since he was little," Kim Richendollar said. "We just come to support our son."

Scott Jenkins, a 13-year-old Dawson-Bryant student, brought a small cheering section with him: His parents, Dolly Williams and Custer Delawder; his aunt, Trina Delawder; his grandmother, Peggy Delawder and cousin, Harli Jenkins.

"It means a lot to them (the athletes) to have somebody here," Trina Delawder said. "Some of the kids here don't have anyone. From the time he started we've been here. Kids are the important thing, it doesn't matter if he wins or loses."