Some of the best athletes in Bartow County competed last month for a chance to bring home the gold.
The Bartow County Special Olympics featured 178 student-athletes from Bartow County and Cartersville City schools battling for more than three hours to win gold, silver and bronze medals Oct. 21 at Adairsville High School’s Tiger Stadium, where the event is held every year.
The young athletes didn’t let wheelchairs and walkers stop them from competing in the nine athletic contests: 200-meter dash, 100-meter dash, standing long jump, running long jump, shot put, 50-meter assisted walk, 100-meter wheelchair dash, softball throw and tennis ball throw.
“2015 was another successful year for the Bartow County Special Olympics,” said Chairman Jason Rood, exceptional student support lead teacher at AHS. “We are honored to host the event in Bartow County, and I would like to express our appreciation to [Superintendent] Dr. [John] Harper and the Bartow County Board of Education for continuing to allow us to use the facilities at Adairsville High School to host the event.”
Running the event were “well over” 300 volunteers, including student “buddies,” teachers and paraprofessionals who assisted the athletes, Rood said.
“There are local groups who assist, including the Woodmen of the World, who provide the lunches for our participants, and the Ladies Service League of Cartersville, who assist with medal presentations,” he said. “Drs. Sarah Harbin and Robert Sullivan have a station set up on the field to attend to medical issues, and PT Solutions and Advanced Rehab also have stations on the field. There are also local individuals from the community who help us in a
variety of ways during the event.”
Haley Chester, a sophomore at Cass High School, won a silver medal in the tennis ball throw and came in fifth place in the 50-meter assisted walk, with the help of her buddies, Cass High juniors Kaitlan Gibson and Rebecca Rice.
“It was fun,” Haley, 16, said. “It was hard to walk fast with my walker, but my buddies stayed by my side. Kaitlan and Rebecca were the best buddies ever. We might hang out again this weekend.”
Special Olympics is an event Haley enjoys very much.
“The best part is walking and hanging out with my friends,” the Cartersville resident said.
Rood said a fellow educator influenced him to get involved with Special Olympics.
“One of our teachers here at Adairsville High School, Mrs. Lavonna Frady, volunteered to take over the Olympics here in Bartow County 17 years ago, and she has worked tirelessly every year to ensure the event is a success,” he said. “I wanted to help Mrs. Frady in whatever capacity I could after seeing the impact this event has on our athletes and everyone else involved.”