Kim Roughton, a Special Olympics volunteer, recited the athletes’ oath to kickoff the 2nd Annual Special Olympics Field Day at Emerald Coast Middle School.
“Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt,” she said.
Students from all over Walton County gathered for a little friendly competition in games ranging from the bean bag toss to the long jump, each competing for a 1st place ribbon.
Megan Dailey, the school district’s board-certified behavior analyst, says it’s important for the kids to grow socially in this kind of environment.
“It’s so great to have these kids out here playing and cheering for each other,” she said. “Being here and wearing that ribbon does amazing things for their self-esteem and they see that we’re all in it together.”
Dailey interacts with many of these students on a regular basis. She says these Special Olympics events are not only an opportunity for the students to grow, but an opportunity for the community to grow as well.
“This event raises awareness of disabilities. It’s a chance for people to interact with these kids and not be afraid, to see that they like the same sorts of things and to just laugh and play.”
And as important as it is for the kids to interact, it’s equally important for the parents. Cathy Kocurek, the mother of a 12-year-old athlete, says it’s really helpful to meet other families like theirs.
“It’s challenging to find families like ours out in the community,” she said. “We love coming to these events and interacting with everyone. It shows us just how many kids are affected.”
Kocurek’s daughter Hannah loves it too, although she only gives a shy nod and a soft “yeah.” She’s competing in the bean bag toss and the 50-meter dash, and can hardly hold still from excitement.
“She’s just ready to run,” her mother says as Hannah tries to sprint towards the starting line. “She is having a lot of fun. It’s so nice to have a day that’s all about her.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Special Olympics Florida is actively working to expand its program and improve the opportunities for its athletes. Cheri Cain, Field Services Director for Special Olympics Florida says “it’s a growing program.”
“We are moving forward in a very good way,” she said. “We want to offer more training year-round and help the athletes advance in the competition, all the way up to state.”
To learn more about Special Olympics in