April 10, 2009
Throughout the year, the Special Olympics organizes events that motivate and provide hope to people with intellectual disabilities.
The events give those athletes an opportunity to compete and to showcase their physical skills.
Deanie Forbes, the director of Area 6 (Chickasaw, Monroe, Clay, Oktibbeha, Lowndes, and Webster counties) in Mississippi helps make all of these things possible.
Forbes, who is a special education teacher, first got involved with the Special Olympics 20 years ago. She has been the Area 6 director for six years.
On Wednesday, Forbes and many volunteers hosted track and field and bocce events for Special Olympians at the Mississippi State track.
The event takes place at the end of the spring semester each year, so scores can be submitted before the state games at Keesler in May.
Each participant selected three events to participate in. They had a choice of running, softball throw, run and jump, horse shoe, Frisbee, and tennis ball throw.
Once each participant completed their activity, they became fans for their peers, cheering them on as they finished.
Track and field and bocce aren''t the only sports offered for Special Olympians. In the fall, softball, soccer, horse shoes, croquet, and golf are offered at an event at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg.
Basketball, volleyball, and bowling also are offered. The sports are broken down by age groups and the ability level of each participant.
Forbes said the sports help build self-esteem and help athletes experience the joy of competition.
"Sometimes they get discouraged," Forbes said. "Sometimes you just have to go along with it. We have people who finish with them, and we have people waiting at the finish line to congratulate them once they finish."
Awards were presented to each participant Wednesday. Volunteers also help make the whole event possible.
"We have some great volunteers." Forbes said. "We had a family of seven who are home schooled come out and help. We also have a lot of MSU students who volunteer for the event."