More than 300 athletes compete at Trumbull County Special Olympics
By Brandon Judeh
It looked just like any other track and field meet as hundreds of athletes lined the Arrowhead Stadium track.
But this one was special as the Special Olympics took over the stadium Saturday morning as special needs kids and adults did their best to win medals in events ranging from walking to running to throwing.
The sun peaked through the overcast sky just in time for the balloon release to mark the start of the event as the athletes took to the field.
“One of the great things is seeing the athletes improve and grow over time, not only with their athletic skills, but also with their maturity, social skills and confidence,” said Carol Kirsch, the local coordinator for Fairhaven Special Olympics.
“Our team loves coming here, they always look forward to coming here. Another thing that’s neat to see too is how they develop friendships with opposing teams and also students from Girard High School, which is a great thing to see.”
Ron Frisbie, of the Columbiana Special Olympics team, got things off to a great start by placing first in the 1500-meter run.
Jasmyne Brogdon cruised to an easy victory in the softball throw with an impressive 45-foot throw and Zachary Henson won the 200-meter run with a time of 32.94.
David Grossman, who runs the Mahoning County Special Olympics, has been involved in the program for 30 years and said the athletes always love how many people come out to watch and cheer them on.
“The turnout today is great and we have more than 300 athletes participating so as always it’s very exciting,” said Grossman. “The Special Olympics are great. It gives our athletes a chance to come out and compete in events they otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to compete in. They also have a lot of fun doing it and build a lot of friendships over the years.”
Thomas File, whose son Thomas File Jr. participated in several events, said the Olympics help everyone involved.
“It’s great for the participants and for the community,” he said. “It gives them a chance to come out and play in sports and it also helps raise awareness.”
Hundreds of local volunteers, ranging from Girard high school students to parents, also participated.
Traci Cochran has been volunteering in the event for the past five years.
“I keep coming back and volunteering because I love seeing the kids and adults compete and watching them smile and enjoy themselves,” Cochran said. “It makes us volunteers feel really good. We see a lot of the same kids every year and they are such a joy to see every single year. It’s something I always look forward to and will continue to come back year after year.”
Also having a big morning was Keagan Todd who won the 200-meter dash 16-21 age group and Joe Bryant won the 30-plus age group in the 200-meter dash with a time of 34.44.