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Douglas County Special Olympics moved to April 26
by Liz Marino
April 17, 2013 10:49 AM | 2622 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Liz Marino<br>From left are longtime Special Olympics volunteer Jackie Chapman, Yeager Middle School student athlete Ellory Davis, who will participate in the opening ceremony, and volunteer Renee Davis.
Staff / Liz Marino
From left are longtime Special Olympics volunteer Jackie Chapman, Yeager Middle School student athlete Ellory Davis, who will participate in the opening ceremony, and volunteer Renee Davis.
Some 400 very special athletes will be hitting the track at New Manchester High School April 26 to compete in Douglas County’s Special Olympics.

Officials on Wednesday opted to move the date and location of the event from April 19 because of anticipated wet weather.

The competition begins with an opening ceremony at 10 a.m. and runs through 1:30 p.m. A pre-game show is scheduled shortly before the opening ceremony.

The ceremony begins with the Special Olympics athletes’ motto: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Competitors are made up of some 300 school-aged children and about 100 special-needs adults.

Older school-aged children are also involved with the Therapeutic Recreation program through Douglas County Parks and Recreation Department, according to Jackie Chapman of Douglasville, who has helped coordinate the event for the past 37 years.

Olympic events include a softball throw, long jump, motor training activities, wheelchair races, 200-meter, 100-meter and 50-meter track events, a 150-meter assisted walk and others.

“This is a community effort,” Chapman said. “If we didn’t have everyone working together, we could not put this on.”

At least 300 volunteers are necessary to organize an event of this magnitude, she said.

The Douglas County Kiwanis Club has been supporting and volunteering for Special Olympics for the past 35 years, said Chapman.

Douglas County Special Olympics was started by Debbie Miles Lamp’l, who worked as the special education secretary for the Douglas County School System for many years.

Chapman estimated the program started in Douglas County around 1975.

It is a labor or love for both athletes and volunteers, she said.

“Special Olympics give these students and adults an opportunity to participate at their level that will carry them through,” Chapman said. “It provides them opportunities to develop social skills and friendships.

“This is something that a lot of these students and adults look forward to each year.”

Chapman, who retired eight years ago from the school system, began her involvement in special education and Special Olympics as a student teacher.

“Everything I have done involves intellectually challenged children,” she said.

At a recent practice of athletes from Dedicated Community Support and Services, which serves special-needs adults, Chapman greeted a lot of old friends.

“I’ve known a lot of these people since they were in kindergarten,” she said.

“It is one of the happiest days of the year. It is wonderful to bring joy to the adults and kids.”
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