By ANDY GOODELL
The Oskaloosa Herald
They came to show their athletic prowess.
The Southeast Spring Special Olympic games were held at the Penn Activities Center Saturday. The day included track and field events such as softball throw, shot put, tennis ball throw, standing long jump, as well as running events.
Sarah DeRonde, a coach for one of Oskaloosa’s three Special Olympics teams competing Saturday, said Saturday's event was an important character-building exercise for both volunteers and athletes.
“It’s just one of the best days I look forward to every year,” said DeRonde.
DeRonde noted that the athletes competing Saturday learned skills and how to complete them, as well as “self-advocacy.”
The event included over 200 athletes from all over southeast Iowa including Fairfield, Ottumwa, Mt. Pleasant and other areas. Athletes at Saturday’s event ranged in age from eight to 50-plus, said DeRonde. She also noted that some schools bring more athletes, but that they are all intent on having a valuable experience.
“They all bring different numbers all for the same reason,” DeRonde pointed out.
The athletes participating Saturday train beforehand, much like any other competitor in any other sport, DeRonde said, noting that her team members began preparing months in advance.
Herald City Editor Andy Goodell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.