Community Unites For Annual Special Olympics Event

JAMESTOWN – A feeling of unification was displayed on Martin Road Wednesday as Striders Field hosted the annual Special Olympics, a worldwide event that allows students with developmental or intellectual disabilities to participate in various athletic events. 
The event’s coordinator, Robert Goold, told WNYNewsNow that the Special Olympics serves as a very special day for the participating athletes.
“This is a big day for these kids,” Goold said. “So many teachers came to me this morning and said, ‘My kids have been excited for this (the Special Olympics event) since Christmas.’ A lot of these kids aren’t involved with athletics in schools or outside in the community.”
Goold said that the Special Olympics gives the kids a great place to be stars.
“We’ve got a beautiful venue where the kids can shine,” Goold said. “It doesn’t matter if they throw the softball 10 feet, 20 feet. They all get a ribbon and a pat on the back.”
Goold estimated, between the number of students, parents, teachers and volunteers, over 1,000 people attended the event. He said that seven high schools were in attendance, bringing numerous students and volunteers.
Goold said the process for organizing the event is actually rather simple.
“Really, there’s not that much on me,” Goold said. “I just contact the schools and they’ll bring volunteers with them.”
Goold said that Chautauqua County has hosted the Special Olympics since 1971, and there’s now one that’s held in both the North and South County. Striders Field has hosted the South County event for a few years, and he’s been apart of the event since 1988.
The Elks Club is providing lunch for the 44th year, according to Goold.
According to the Special Olympics of Deleware’s website, the Special Olympics was originally a summer day camp that Sargent and Eunice Shriver started in the backyard of their Maryland home. Eunice was former President John F. Kennedy’s sister.
In July 1968, the world witnessed the first International Special Olympics Games at Soldier Field in Chicago. In December of that year, the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation incorporated Special Olympics. Since then, Special Olympics has grown to become the largest program of its kind.

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