PARKERSBURG - Helping others build self-confidence and lasting memories are two major goals for the 2013 Special Olympics West Virginia Fall Games, which end today at Parkersburg South High School.
"There are a lot of excited faces on our athletes," said John Corbett, CEO of Special Olympics West Virginia. "This weekend is all about them and we want to give them the best possible experience."
More than 550 Special Olympics athletes from 30 counties around the state gathered in Parkersburg with another 220 coaches and volunteers for the annual event, which began Friday and concluded today.
Photo by Jolene Craig
Peggy Schuler, 11, of Berkley County, tosses a beanbag as she plays cornhole on Saturday during the 2013 Special Olympics West Virginia Fall Games at Parkersburg South High School.
"This is the largest number of athletes we have had the pleasure to provide this experience to," Corbett said. "If we can grow the numbers even more and give more people this experience, it will be fantastic."
For nearly two decades, volunteer Cheryl Baxter of Parkersburg has given her time to the Special Olympics and has been serving as one of about 175 local volunteers through the weekend.
"I have been volunteering for 18 or 19 years," Baxter said. "We aren't sure how long exactly, but it is close to 20 years."
* 8 a.m.: Volleyball Championships (PSHS Rod Oldham Gym); Bowling Competition (Pike Street Lanes)
* 9 a.m.: Flag Football Championships (PSHS Practice Field)
* 10 a.m.: Football Skills (PSHS Practice Field)
* 1:15 p.m.: Awards Ceremony (PSHS Rod Oldham Gym)
Baxter said she became hooked on working with Special Olympics within minutes of her first event.
"Once you've done this, you're pulled in," she laughed. "I love being part of the Special Olympics because of the athletes - they are all amazing, with no limitations."
While Baxter manned the booth for shirt sales on Saturday, other Parkersburg area volunteers spent the weekend assisting the athletes with competitions and social activities as well as other things.
"Our volunteers from the local community are wonderful," Corbett said. "Because of those who generously give their time, our Special Olympics athletes are able to create quality memories and have enjoyable experiences."
Special Olympics programming in West Virginia dates back to 1968. Special Olympics West Virginia was incorporated in 1977.
Fall Games is one of four statewide events conducted by Special Olympics and enables individuals with intellectual disabilities of all skill levels to compete in volleyball, bowling, flag football and football skills.
Parkersburg has served as host of Fall Games for more than 20 years. Accompanying the Special Olympics athletes were more than 200 volunteer coaches who have spent weeks training the athletes for the games.
Counties represented at this year's Fall Games will include: Barbour, Berkeley, Boone, Braxton, Cabell, Clay, Fayette, Gilmer, Greenbrier, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Kanawha, Lewis, Lincoln, Logan, Marion, Marshall, Mason, Mineral, Monongalia, Morgan, Nicholas, Preston, Putnam, Roane, Upshur, Wayne, Wirt and Wood.