With all of the challenges that those athletes who competed in the Special Olympics track and field meet on May 4 overcome on a daily basis, that meet was a celebration as much as it was a competition.
To watch nearly 100 of those athletes compete in a way that displays as much dedication and determination as is visible on most athletic fields from high school to pro, reminds us that the heart it takes for these competitions is just as vital as the physical qualities.
Special Olympians have traditionally turned out in good numbers for this event.
Part of the reason for that is people like Carl Erskine and a multitude of others who give so freely of their time and energy to not only run an outstanding event, but also to keep the athletes in the public eye, not just for this event but all year long.
These athletes compete year round, even though the May event is the biggest of the year.
For them, winning is always the goal and it shows in the effort they put forth in trying to finish first in events like distance walking, sprints, shot put or bocce ball. But once the competition is finished, it would be hard to find a group of athletes happier when their opponents do well.
They take pride in improvement and in trying their best. They revel in the pure joy of just putting forth the effort that is the product of a regular regimen of training.
These Olympians could serve as a model for finding the joy in the doing of something to the best of one’s ability with less regard for the place where they finish at the end of the competition.
These athletes are to be admired and honored for the purity of the motives that drive them. There is no college scholarship waiting at the end of their rainbow. There is no multi-million dollar contract for them to sign when they win.
What they get, in addition to the rousing support of family and friends, enriches them from the inside. Athletes in it for the sense of competing is what makes Special Olympics a cause worthy of support and a source of pride for this community.
To read the story about the recent Madison County Special Olympics track and field meet, go to www.theheraldbulletin.com and search for "Special Olympics."