• 73°

Athletes show determination, heart and joy at fall Area 11 Special Olympics

AMERICUS, GA – Over 200 athletes from Sumter County and the surrounding counties gathered at the GSW Storm Dome on Friday, November 1, for the fall version of the annual Area 11 Georgia Special Olympics.

According to Area 11 local coordinator Gavin Bernstein, 225 athletes from five districts: Sumter County, Dooly County, Lee County, Schley County and Worth County, showed up to compete and have fun. “We’ve had a great turnout with volunteers, the fraternities, sororities, clubs, every sports team really engaging,” Bernstein said. “I’ve seen a big difference especially with the Special Olympians liking to participate with the GSW athletes. It’s been well received.”

An athlete competes in the Spot Shot event at the fall Area 11 Special Olympics.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Many Special Olympians competed in three events: the 10-meter dribble, the target pass and the spot shot. The MATP Olympians competed in events such as the head lift, the basketball roll and the basketball bucket shot. There were also two basketball games played between teams made up of special Olympians.

A basketball player competes in a game during the fall Area 11 Special Olympics.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Members from all of the GSW sports teams, fraternities, sororities and members of the Americus-Sumter high school boys’ basketball team participated as volunteers to help assist the athletes as they competed in the various events.

An athlete attempts to put the ball in the basket.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

GSW senior Caleb Zolman, a member of the GSW men’s soccer team, has been a volunteer for the Special Olympics events for the past four years. He has noticed an improvement in the interaction with the community, as far as Special Olympics goes. “I think the interaction with the community is a lot better than when I volunteered during my freshman year,” Zolman said. “I think a lot more people are participating. I think it’s a lot more organized too.” For GSW junior Divin Moke, Zolman’s teammate, he too has noticed that the interaction between Special Olympics and the community has improved. “This year has been a lot better than the previous years,” Moke said.

This is the motto of the Special Olympics.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Every year, the Special Olympics gives these young, courageous athletes a chance to have fun, succeed and feel special. They may not always win, but they are certainly “brave in the attempt.”

A Special Olympian competes in the 10-meter dribble event at the Area 11 fall Special Olympics.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

There will be another Area 11 Special Olympics event later on this spring. As it has been in the past few years, it will be held at Alton Shell Stadium on the campus of Americus-Sumter High School.