Our View: A special event

The walls of the Moffat County High School aquatics center boomed loudly as parents and volunteers chanted the names of swimmers in Saturday's Special Olympic Summer Games.

As athletes emerged from the pool dripping wet and with beaming smiles, they were greeted with high-fives, towels and hugs.

They were happy to be there and to have competed, and we should be happy they were there, too.

Those athletes have trained for weeks or months to compete in these regional games. The top winners advance to the state competition and possibly the 2007 World Games in China.

The point is, this is serious business.

The number of parents, friends and volunteers was amazing. People from several counties came to watch and encourage athletes they know or have worked with during the past months and years.

The Craig Kiwanis Club organized the event well and provided a fun yet structured atmosphere. We should be proud to have that group and the Olympians in our city.

But for all the positive aspects of Saturday's event, there was one glaring drawback.

The bleachers were bare, bereft of community members who should have supported these outstanding athletes.

With the exceptions of those volunteering, organizing or supporting loved ones in the games, the community did not come out to cheer on the athletes as they swam, ran and lifted.

That's a shame.

People with disabilities are not supported in this community -- with applause or funding.

That's likely because residents that do not understand the needs of people with disabilities. The only way to understand those needs is to interact with people with disabilities. The Special Olympics were the perfect opportunity for that.

The turnout was particularly disappointing considering Craig's tight-knit community. We expected more of Craig's residents to come out Saturday and celebrate the accomplishments of so many local athletes.

We should all take the time to get to know the people who live in our community, to understand them.

We need to support people with disabilities by cheering them on when they've worked so hard to achieve their goals.

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