Special Olympics made more special thanks to community support | CraigDailyPress.com

Special Olympics made more special thanks to community support

Not everyone is guaranteed a chance to shine, but once the weather gets warm in Northwest Colorado, a certain group of people are given an opportunity to step off the sidelines.

For more than three decades, the Special OlympicsSpecial Olympics have been hosted in Craig, providing those with disabilities a day to compete in athletic endeavors, including track and field, weightlifting and swimming. have been hosted in Craig, providing those with disabilities a day to compete in athletic endeavors, including track and field, weightlifting and swimming.

Special Olympics have been hosted in Craig, providing those with disabilities a day to compete in athletic endeavors, including track and field, weightlifting and swimming.

The worldwide program, which began in 1968, comes to the Western Slope of Colorado in mid-May, a favorite event for many in the area as those from surrounding towns like Steamboat Springs, Delta, Montrose and more make their way to Craig.

Local coordinator Dan Severson said the focus is to provide not just a single day of events but an entire weekend where athletes can be the center of attention. While much of the support comes from Craig Kiwanis Club, it's the effort of the entire community that makes it memorable.

"There's lots of businesses in town that help out, and we encourage everybody in town to come out and cheer," he said. "It's a really rewarding day."

Recommended Stories For You

Volunteers aid in taking times, helping athletes and otherwise making everything go smoothly during the introductory barbecue and the games themselves.

Deb Kirby, day program coordinator for Horizons Specialized ServicesHorizons Specialized Services, said 15 local people involved with the organization — which works with those with developmental disabilities — , said 15 local people involved with the organization — which works with those with developmental disabilities — competed last springcompeted last spring, among about 100 total at the event., among about 100 total at the event.

Horizons Specialized Services, said 15 local people involved with the organization — which works with those with developmental disabilities — competed last spring, among about 100 total at the event.

"For our guys, it lifts their confidence to be part of something like that, if they win or not," she said. "It shows that they can accomplish something, even if they finish the 50-meter walk in last place. We'll hear about it weeks later, with their ribbon, that's how proud they are."

Western Regional Manager Julie Fite, who works out of Grand Junction, has been involved with Special Olympics since 1989, and in that time the Craig competition has become one of her favorites to attend not only as a qualifier to send people to state but as a general celebration of goodwill and recognition for those involved.

"The community just goes all out," she said of Craig's event and the involvement it includes. "A lot of people choose to come to that event just because it entails a lot of different aspects, not just the competition part of it. Without the local businesses and service organizations it wouldn't be possible."

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.