This fall, the students, staff, and instructors from the Ross Medical Education Center Huntsville, Alabama campus were able to once again participate in the Special Olympics Track and Field Event at Milton Frank Stadium in Huntsville. It’s become an annual event to which the entire Ross looks forward.
The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community.
According to their website, “Special Olympics are an unprecedented global movement which, through quality sports training and competition, improves the lives of people with intellectual disabilities and, in turn, the lives of everyone they touch.” More than 400 special needs athletes filled Milton Frank Stadium for the North Alabama Special Olympics Track and Field events. The athletes represented Madison City Schools, Madison County Schools, Huntsville City Schools, and the Opportunity Center. Athletes ranged from age right to 65 years old. Some of the events athletes competed in include running and standing long jump, softball throw, 100 meter dash and shot-put.
“Joining the Special Olympics was such a treat! My classmate and I teamed up with a lively young man named Scott,” shared Genet Stanley, a student in the Pharmacy Technician program. “He was so full of energy, it was like we were in the Olympics ourselves. Being around so many diverse people with all kinds of disabilities and challenges was quite a humbling experience. I recommend everyone take part in this event at some point in the future. The thing I think I will miss the most about being here is cheering on the athletes. It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about having fun, overcoming, and doing things close minded people don’t think you can.” Another student, Shanicia Garner, in the Dental Assistant program agreed, “my experience at the Special Olympics was great. I got to experience of bunch of people coming together to do something fun as well as bond with a family I’ve never met before. I would definitely go again.”