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65 compete in Special Olympics

May 06, 2000|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

Carrying in the torch to launch the 27th annual Washington County Special Olympic Games was "cool" for Jonathan Martin, but he said the games are much more.

"The Special Olympics is a training-for-life thing," said Martin, while waiting to compete in the long jump, shot put and 100-meter dash.

"It's a good place to be and it helps keep me active. When I'm 30 or 40, I'll still be in good shape," he said.

Martin, 28, was one of 65 athletes competing Saturday at the Athletic Recreation & Community Center at Hagerstown Community College. The event serves as the qualifying round for the state Special Olympics, scheduled June 2-4 at the University of Maryland's College Park campus.

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"It's fun. I love it. I want to be in it for the rest of my life," said Greg Strother, who was preparing for the 200-meter dash, long jump and shot put.

Vicki Follett, assistant director and competition director of Special Olympics-Maryland Washington County and a parent of an athlete, said, "I like the values it instills. Such as the oath, 'Let me win, but if I can't win, let me be brave in the attempt.' A lot of these athletes have to face more challenges than I will ever dream of."

Follett said that about 30 volunteers helped organize and work Saturday's competition.

The opening ceremonies featured the Northern Middle School Band and a marching and rifle-twirling exhibition by the Civil Air Patrol Cadets.

The event was sponsored by Hagerstown Trust.

Special Olympics is a nonprofit athletic program for people with developmental disabilities.

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