Special Athletes Shine in 2018 DuBois-Jefferson County Special Olympic Games

BROOKVILLE, Pa. (EYT) – It was all fun in the sun on Wednesday afternoon in Brookville, as a near-perfect day of sunshine, blue skies, and warmth helped Brookville Area High School welcome athletes from DuBois and Jefferson County to the 2018 DuBois-Jefferson County Special Olympics.

(Pictured above: Hickory Grove Elementary athletes prepare to march in the Parade of Athletes during Wednesday’s DuBois-Jefferson County Special Olympic Games at Brookville Area High School. Photo by Michaela Williams.)

This year’s Special Olympics, which theme was “Let the Adventure Begin,” saw hundreds of competitors come together to compete in several events, such as the 50-meter, 100-meter, and 200-meter dashes; the running and standing long jumps; the softball throw; and the turbo javelin.

Wednesday’s games hosted approximately 220 athletes, with participants from Brockway, DuBois, Punxsutawney, and Brookville area school districts, Fayette Resources, New Story, Soaring Heights Academy, Merakey (formerly NHS), and Community all gathering to compete and enjoy the day together.

“It’s just a terrific time for the kids,” Special Olympics Master of Ceremonies Frank Hetrick said about the day’s turnout. “They look forward to competing, they look forward to doing stuff in front of the crowd. They just enjoy it tremendously.”

“Probably all of these kids do not compete in any kind of a sport in high school or junior high, and this is their day to shine. They train for this, they start practicing for this as soon as they can get outside in their gym classes and in their facilities.”

“They practice throwing, running, and jumping, and they know it’s very important to them, and they love getting those ribbons… It doesn’t matter what color ribbon they get or what place they come in: they just love to compete. They just love to have a great time.”

The day’s events officially began at 10:00 a.m. with the parade of athletes, followed shortly by the National Anthem courtesy of the Brookville High School Marching Band.

After the introductions of Brookville School District Superintendent Dr. Robin Fillman, Jefferson County Commissioners Herb Bullers, John “Jack” Matson, and Jeff Pisark, as well as Jefferson County Sheriff Carl Gotwald and PA State Representative Cris Dush, the playing of “One Small Voice” followed shortly. Special Athlete Jessica McManigle led the Pledge of Allegiance. Rev. Bill Saxman of Summerville & Kingsville UMC gave the invocation before turning it over to the Olympic Torch Run.

Missy Marche (Brockway) began the run before passing the torch off to Fennie Byler (Brookville). From there, the torch would be passed to Matthew Coulter (DuBois), Amanda Milliron (Fayette), Elias Shah (New Story), David Johns (Soaring Heights), Josh Frederick (Merakey), Amy Jo Thomas (Community), and then to Skyler Fox (Punxsy).

Though the focus of the day was upon the celebration of the athletes and their triumphs, the event itself would not have been possible without the aid of several volunteers who all gave their time and effort to make the day a success.

“We have a tremendous volunteer base that have been helping year after year, after year,” Hetrick said concerning the management and volunteer staff.

“Each school district that hosts (the Special Olympics), the administration is just fantastic with the facilities, with the number of volunteers. We have a lot of people being released from the schools to help… We really appreciate the cooperation that we get from the school districts and from the agencies because without that cooperation it just wouldn’t happen.”

In addition to Hetrick, the management staff was comprised of Stephanie Cable, Dawn Coulter, Mary Frederick, Janelle Frederick, Autumn Berfield, and the Brookville Track Boosters.

The DuBois-Jefferson County Special Olympics now turns its attention to its training program for various sports throughout the year, with its soccer program slated to start in August. Anyone interested in competing can contact the DuBois-Jefferson Counties committee either at 814-849-2562 or by e-mailing them at [email protected].

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