Lawrence County Special Olympics Thursday at Fairland High School

Published 11:07 am Monday, May 9, 2011

Some students in the area are counting down the days until the annual Lawrence County Special Olympics, scheduled for Thursday at Fairland High School.

Sharon Blankenship, county coordinator, said there are events and games for the students to participate and compete in, with winners advancing on to the regional level.

“We have games outside on the track- softball throw, long jump, running events,” Blankenship said. For students who aren’t able to participate in those events, other special events will be inside the gymnasium, giving every student a chance to participate.

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Blankenship said there are not just winners for each event, but also for each division, with categories divided by gender and ages.

Blankenship has been involved in Special Olympics since 1972, and knows the importance of the event.

“I think it’s such an opportunity for them to compete in events,” Blankenship said. “Quite often these students don’t have a lot of confidence in themselves, and this builds a great deal of confidence and a sense of accomplishment in themselves, and it will encourage them to participate in other extra-curricular activities within the school.

She added that events like the Special Olympics teaches sportsmanship and allows them to do things they might have thought they were unable to.

Blankenship said the event is something the students get excited about each year.

“From the very beginning of the school year, they start wanting to know where it’s going to be,” she said. “They truly look forward to it.”

There are 348 students participating this year, which is down some from previous years. An event has been added this year, the 3,000-meter run, for a student at Open Door School who wants to participate at the state level this year in that event, Blankenship said.

After the local district, students move on to the regional district, and then the state district. Every four years, there is an international Olympics hosted by various places around the world.

While the event has enough volunteers to help, Blankenship said the public could help out in another way.

“If they would like to come and watch the kids, they would really enjoy it,” Blankenship said.