Area athletes are lacing up their running shoes and preparing to “get their game on” March 22 for this year’s Coffee/Dale/Geneva Special Olympic Games.
The games will be held at Enterprise High School and will begin with a special torch ceremony and lighting of the cauldron. According to Coffee/Dale/Geneva Special Olympics Area Director Warren Bowron, this year’s games will run a little differently but no less efficiently.
“We’re going to get started in the morning, and the athletes will come in about 8:30,” Bowron said. “We’re beginning the torch run at the Boll Weevil Monument, and we’ve got lots of local law enforcement participating in the run: the Enterprise Police Department, the Coffee County Sheriff’s Office, some state troopers, and possibly some law enforcement from Dale or Geneva counties. If everything works out we will be streaming torch run to the high school so our participants can see where it is. Then we’ll have our parade of athletes, light the cauldron, and kick off the games.”
Almost two hundred participants from 16 different area schools have registered to compete this year, though Bowron said that number might go up before the final count following the March 15 registration deadline. The games will begin with all running events and end with field events -- a change Bowron said the committee made because of the number of vendors present.
“This year we’re going to have a bunch of vendors with activities for the athletes, like yard games and face painting, and we want everybody who wants to participate in those to have a chance to do that.”
Bowron said another program was added this year for athletes who want to see what the games are like without the pressure of competition.
“We have a young athletes division (this year) that competes for participation ribbons,” Bowron said. “It allows them to find out what the program is about and continue to grow within program.”
Athletes who compete and do well in the local Special Olympics have the opportunity to advance to higher levels of competition, such as the National and World games. Enterprise bowler Garrett Wynn represented the City of Progress in last year’s National games in Seattle, bringing home three medals.
Any individuals interested in volunteering to help with the Special Olympics are encouraged to contact Bowron and come out to the games, but Bowron said people don’t have to be physically present to support the event.
“Anybody that doesn’t have time to volunteer that morning, they can meet at the Boll Weevil Monument at 8:45 that morning, and businesses along that route can cheer on the torch,” Bowron said. “And if you’re having a bad day, come out, we can change that for you. These athletes will change your mind and attitude and you’ll enjoy your day.”