Special Olympics: An unmatched local stage for 30 years

In 1989, a small advertisement was run in the Sun-Gazette appealing to people to get involved in the revival of the Special Olympics program, which had lost its local accreditation due to changes in national rules.

Apparently, people with full consciences and the correct spirit noticed the ad.

Thirty years later, there are 74 volunteers managing 112 local athletes who compete in Special Olympics.

The athletes range from 8 years old to their 60s. They compete on local, state, national and international stages.

They train, they compete, and yeah, they win their share of trophies.

But they actually get a lot more than that, according to Pat Turner, mother of Roger Turner, a Lycoming County Special Olympics athlete.

“It gives them friends of their own,” she said. “It gives them a place of their own.”

For most people, these may seem like the normal trappings of life.

For someone with intellectual disabilities, these are treasures not easily attained.

But just as traditional sports bring together athletes, fans and communities in the spirit of competition and quest for achievement, Special Olympics bring together participants, their families and volunteers on a positive stage of competition.

The difference is that there are fewer stages of that kind for people with intellectual disabilities.

Without Special Olympics, these athletes might not have “a place of their own.”

Special Olympics is 50 years old this year and the local program is 30 years old.

A hearty congratulations and thanks is due to all the people who have helped give athletes with intellectual disabilities a stage on which they can feel proud and shine.

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