Dedication to shine at Special Olympics

When the Special Olympics kick off Saturday in Craig, a record will be set before the first event takes place.

Organizers are expecting more than 100 athletes from Colorado and Wyoming to participate, which is the first time the spring area games have surpassed 100 athletes.

Events, which will occur simultaneously, will be held at Moffat County High School's pool, track and gym and residents are encouraged to come and watch.

Athletes at the gym will show their prowess in power lifting, the bench press, the dead lift and squats.

"We will have some world-class athletes," Rick Allen, games coordinator for the event, said. "They will be lifting hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pounds. It's going to be amazing."

There also will be a wide variety of track and field events, from short dashes to distance events, the pentathlon, the long jump and the high jump.

There also will be events that are specially suited for athletes and their abilities such as the tennis ball throw and the softball throw and wheelchair events.

Allen has been involved in Special Olympics for eight years and has been the games coordinator for four years.

"It kind of grows on you," Allen said. "The athletes grow on you. They are a terrific bunch of people."

Allen said it is important for people to realize how important these events are to the athletes who participate in them.

"We had a participant who won a gold medal last year in an event he had participated in for years and he had never won," Allen said. "At that moment, that gold medal was as significant to him as to anything Bruce Jenner ever won. They feel just as accomplished as any other athlete."

Allen said athletes who participate in Special Olympics are just as dedicated as any other athlete and train for months to get ready for the events.

Area residents, Allen said, are encouraged to attend to watch and cheer on these athletes.

"It gives people a new perspective when they see that dedication," Allen said.

The local Kiwanis Club has continued its dedication to the Special Olympics for more than 20

years.

Allen, a club member, said Kiwanis makes sure the athletes are fed, it provides judges, time keepers, those who input data for scores as well as volunteers for other duties to make sure the games run as smoothly as possible.

"Without the Kiwanis Club, we wouldn't be able to pull this off," Allen said.

It's also the dedication of the community that makes the Special Olympics in Craig a success.

Allen said area businesses provide food, supplies and other necessary items from helium to hotel rooms that get the games off the ground.

What will be new this year is an Olympic cauldron that will be donated by Dave DeRose and Masterworks Mechanical.

Allen said at 8:15 a.m. Saturday a torch run will begin in front of City Market. Each team has chosen a member who will be part of a relay that will run the torch to the cauldron at the high school.

Another aspect of community contributions is the volunteerism that occurs beyond the Kiwanis Club.

"It's a Kiwanis event but we have other volunteers," Allen said. "I've had whole families volunteer. What the community contributes, you can't put a price on it."

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