FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The Special Olympics Arkansas hosted the Area 3 Spring Games for teams from surrounding Northwest Arkansas counties to compete.
"Let me win, but if I can't win, let me be brave in the attempt." The Special Olympic Oath kicked off Friday's games at the Fayetteville public track as an inspiring message to the over 400 athletes eager to compete.
The oath not only serves as a message for athletes but was a true embodiment of what it means to be an athlete in the Special Olympics.
"They don't give up. They are the bravest people on the face of the Earth and they try and they give everything they can," said Audrey Dyke, a parent and coach.
Year-round, nearly 20,000 Arkansas Special Olympic athletes train to compete in different types of sports. Friday was a chance for these athletes to show off their hard work and skills in events like powerlifting, bocce ball and various types of track and field events.
But even with all the training, sometimes athletes need a "little encouragement and then the second the gun goes off they take off like they've been doing this their whole lives," said Sean McCone, a Special Olympic athlete partner. "Sometimes it is a little scary for them, but normally when the action gets going, they will always step up."
Through the support of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, nearly $1 billion have been raised to support the Special Olympics across the country and events like Friday's spring games in Fayetteville.
Members of the Fayetteville Police Department and Washington County Sheriff's Department were on hand participating in the final leg of the torch run and handing out medals to the winners.
As athletes finished up their events and winners received their medals, a third-place long jumper, Ashlyn, was at a loss for words saying, "it means a lot to me, I don't know how to word it, but it means a lot to me."
Athletes, coaches and families made Friday's event possible. Many laughs and hugs were shared as athletes grew as individuals and within a community that is behind each other.
"It's been amazing to see, not just their physical growth, but their personal growth," said Corporal Greg Dawson with the Fayetteville Police Department.
Friday's games may be over, but in May, Special Olympic athletes will be able to come together once again in Searcy, Arkansas for the state summer games. In June, the United States Special Olympics will be held in Orlando, Florida.
If you would like to donate or be a volunteer with the Arkansas Area 3 Special Olympics, you can visit their website for more information.
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