Joyce Marie Taylor
The 2013 Summer Games of the Florida Special Olympics (Area Four) kicked off at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 16, at the Hamilton County High School football stadium with more than 300 people in attendance.
Represented at the games were Hamilton County with 21 athletes, Alachua County with 30 athletes, Columbia County with 48 athletes and Marion County with 30 athletes.
Master of Ceremonies Leigh Ann Norris presided over the opening ceremonies and the Hamilton County High School AFJROTC proudly presented the colors, followed by Staci Allen who sang the National Anthem.
Several local dignitaries offered opening remarks, including Jasper Mayor Ann Lessman, HCHS Onsite Administrator Waylon Bush and Superintendent of Schools Tom Moffses.
Special Olympics Florida Director of Sports Training Akin Joseph greeted everyone.
“The pleasure is mine for being here and witnessing the feats that are going to be accomplished by the athletes,” said Joseph. “What I’d really like to do is recognize all family members. Without your support we wouldn’t be out here.”
Lessman said, “What these athletes do is a little more special because what they do, they do it from the heart. They do it because they want to do it, because they love what they do.”
The Special Olympics Oath, Coaches Oath, Officials Oath and the Volunteer Oath were all recited and an officer from the Jasper Police Department brought the torch in to be lit.
Field events included running, walks, wheelchairs and cycling, as well as bocce shot put, volleyball, softball throw, tennis ball throw, long jump and standing jump.
The Special Olympics Oath states, “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”