Special Olympics Spring Games to bring out the best

Event takes place April 20

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CUMMING, Ga. — Community volunteers have been working hard to bring hundreds of athletes to Forsyth County High School April 20 in anticipation of the Special Olympic Spring Games competition.

Students who have special needs will show what the human spirit is capable of accomplishing as they compete in front of an audience of parents, educators, volunteers as well sponsors that will join them on the field for support.

Susan Darlington, Special Olympics of Forsyth County coordinator, has been with the games for six years.

“Each year, we grow in numbers as it attracts more than 300 athletes,” Darlington said.

There are 60 teams of athletes with between five to eight athletes per team.

Around 450 high school buddies, cheerleaders and team sign carriers are also in the mix. Automation Direct and the United Way are the event’s largest sponsors. Others participating in funding and with volunteers include Kohl’s, Siemens, Stars and Strikes, Sawnee Women’s Club, Starbucks and McDonalds.

Darlington said she got into Special Olympics because she was looking for something that would promote continued healthy living and social interactions for area students with disabilities once they graduated high school.

“Because Special Olympics serves athletes from the ages of 8 and throughout adulthood, it was a perfect fit to my cause,” she said.

Over the years, Special Olympics of Forsyth has seen its share of blessings from the special volunteers that have committed their time to the athletes and various fundraising and outreach committees.

“Through them, we have seen Special Olympics Forsyth grow by leaps and bounds,” Darlington said.

The annual Spring Games also helps to reach out to potential new coaches who are just getting to know what Special Olympics is all about.

“Most of our volunteers who coach and/or sit on a committee came to us after their experience at one of the annual Spring Games,” Darlington said.

The event will begin with an opening ceremony, followed by a parade and closing ceremonies. The 2012 Special Olympics King, Nick Ussery, and Queen, Jackie Latour, will lead the event’s procession.

“We will also have the NFHS Cheerpals perform during our opening ceremony,” Darlington said. “They are an inclusive cheerleading squad where cheerleaders are a mixture of athletes with disabilities and without disabilities.”