2010 Special Olympics give special needs athletes a chance to shine

By Whitney Grunder - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – It's a chance for special needs athletes to shine, in an event that focuses on abilities-- the 2010 Special Olympics.

Hundreds of participants train for weeks, for opportunities that change lives.

Christopher Steed trains for weeks to get ready for the East Texas Spring Games.

"I'm on the relay team. I'm running tomorrow, I'm running 100 and throwing the shot put," he said.

Steed is excited to compete, and make new friends.

"Meet new people and have fun," said Steed.

For athletes young and old, the games are all about building confidence.

"This is the one opportunity that they really have to shine," said the Area Director for the East Texas Special Olympics, Angela Grace.

"I want to come out here and say hi to everybody. I hope I do good," said 12-year-old Caleb.

"I'm really excited. I've been practicing all week," said Kimberly of the "Angelina County Cougars".

The cycling event kicked things off as athletes raced around Panther Stadium.

"When I ride in circles, I get tired sometimes," said Anthony Walker, 10.

Completing the race is a challenge, but crossing that finish line makes their hard work all worthwhile.

"People with disabilities get to do something they really want to do," said Kimberly.

"Special Olympic athletes are proven to go out and continue, in many cases, hold jobs in the community and become really important members of society," said Grace.

While there are only three medalists for each event, everyone walks away a winner.

The fun continues Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at Lufkin High school.

Supporters are welcome to attend and cheer on the athletes.

©2010 KTRE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.