Overcast skies didn’t stop dozens of athletes from gathering at East Hall Park for a day filled with a variety of friendly competitions.
The athletes, representing several different counties, were in the park for the annual Area 2 Special Olympics Spring Games.
The sun may have not been shining, but the cloudy weather couldn’t dampen the sunny dispositions of more than 150 athletes who were present for the spring games.
"We had around 177 athletes and that includes kids from Hall, Dawson and Hart counties," said Steve Hutson, assistant athletic coordinator for the Hall County Parks and Leisure Department.
"We had many events including a 400-meter run, a 25-meter wheelchair race, a softball throw and a 100-meter dash."
Thursday’s event was sponsored by the Hall County Parks and Leisure Department and Area 2 of Special Olympics Georgia.
Like the traditional Olympic games, Thursday’s events opened with the lighting of the Olympic torch. It was carried around the track at the park by a relay team of several athletes.
Each of the athletes also repeated the Special Olympics oath in unison: "Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."
Despite such a large showing of student athletes, there were several counties missing from the spring games roster. Although the counties were missed, they didn’t impact the way the day was organized or the awarding of medals to the Special Olympians.
"We were down maybe one or two counties," Hutson said. "But the Special Olympics are sponsored by Area 2 and Hall County, so the missing counties didn’t really affect the way we handled the day. We wouldn’t have done anything differently if the other counties had been present."
The Special Olympics were established in the U.S. in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver as an athletic outlet for individuals with intellectual disabilities. The organization has grown to more than 3 million athletes in nearly 200 countries.