WEST JEFFERSON — The Ashe County Special Olympics Spring Games brought athletes and volunteers together for a fun morning of competition, smiles and friendship on Tuesday.
“This year I had the pleasure of serving again as the local coordinator for Special Olympics. When this venture began last year, I was quite apprehensive,” said Jerri Vogler. “Those anxious feelings quickly vanished, however, as I witnessed firsthand just what can be accomplished when the staff and students from Ashe County Schools and members of the community join forces to do something good for others.”
A total of 41 athletes competed in three events throughout the day: A 50-yard run, 100-yard run and softball toss. The Ashe County School’s Exceptional Children department staff practiced with the athletes to get them ready to compete. Time trials were held last week to determine how the athletes would be divided into appropriate heats for each event.
Ribbons were awarded for first, second, third and fourth place finishes and every athlete in attendance received an award for each event.
“It would be impossible for me to list the individual names of the many people who play a part in our Special Olympics but to each of them I want to say ‘Thank you,’” said Vogler. “Thank you for giving your time and talents to make some very important members of our community see and feel how much they are supported and valued. The smile on the face of each athlete as they were cheered on during the events and received their awards was made possible by the efforts of every single person who contributed and participated in any way.”
Vogler wanted to extend a special thank you to Don and Maryanne Moore of McDonald’s and Shane Simmons of High County Independent Insurance.
“Without any hesitation, these folks have stepped up to provide for this event and saw to it that no one left our spring games hungry. I appreciate their continued support of the children in Ashe County schools,” said Vogler.
Ashe County High School students also volunteered their time to help out with many of them serving as “athlete buddies.” An athlete was assigned a buddy who remained with them through the entire event.
“I am thankful to live in a community and work in a school system that supports opportunities for children with disabilities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience the joy of participating in Special Olympics,” Vogler said.
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-489-3062 or followed on Twitter @NathanHam87