Special Olympics Officially Underway - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Special Olympics Officially Underway

October 12, 2007

Albany - - About 1500 athletes and coaches are in Albany this weekend for the Special Olympics State Fall Games. Competition started Friday afternoon, but the Games officially kicked off Friday night with a rousing Opening Ceremony. 

As they step out of the bus, they know they're here for business.

"Were here for bocce ball," says Coach Jennifer Westphal.

One of several sporting events this weekend where hundreds of people with special needs will get to show their stuff.

Westphal's group from Gwinett County has been preparing since August.

"The goal is to have fun basically. I don't care if they win or lose. As long as they have fun, that's all I care about," she says.

They joined others from across the state Friday at the Albany Civic Center.

"You can see how full this is, this auditorium. It's just exciting," says Organizer Georgia Sheates.

She says this year's event is bigger and better than ever.

"No comparison. When we were here two years ago there was not one soul in the upper stands," Sheates adds.

Athletes had a ball as they were entertained by Lee County cheerleaders. They were even treated to a performance by Miss Georgia as participants joined in.

Our Ben Roberts was the Master of Ceremonies and was there when Mayor Willie Adams issued a proclamation to organizers. This is the last year the Olympics will be held in Albany, for now.

"We can always come back and we'd love to," Sheates says.

The Olympics rotates between other cities in Georgia every three years.

"Are yall gonna win?" we asked the Gwinett team.

"Oh yeah," they cheered.

But they already won, when they stepped foot off of the bus.

This weekend athletes will compete in softball, golf, cycling, bocce, and long distance running at venues around town.

You can attend any of those evens through Sunday for free.

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