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Team Pike County qualifies for state games

The Special Olympics slogan is emblazoned on the T-shirts of the Pike County athletes. “Let me win if I can, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Friday morning at the Jesse H. Colley Track at Troy University, between 45 and 50 Special Olympics athletes from seven Pike County schools participated in the Team Pike County Special Olympics Local Games and qualified for the state Olympic Games in two weeks at Troy University.

Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford welcome the athletes and their coaches to the event and told them that each and every athlete is a winner.

“Just by coming out here today and competing, you are a winner,” the mayor said. “We look forward to seeing all of you back for the state Games, and you’ll come as winners.”

Steve Dennis, Troy University athletic director, told the athletes that he was both honored and humbled to be a part of such a special event with such incredibly special athletes.

“Every one of you is a winner,” Dennis said. “To be a winner you have to have class, you have to have courage and you have to be willing to help others. Class is doing the best you can do. It’s being able to look in the mirror and know that you gave it a great try. All of you here today are winners even before you touch the track.”

With that, Dennis gave the command, “Let the games begin.”

The athletes competed in track and field events, including the softball and tennis throws, the long jump, the 50- and 100-meter runs, and weightlifting, golf and swimming.

The Team Pike County Special Olympics Local Games was a preliminary event for the Alabama Special Olympics that will be held at Troy University May 14-16.

Meredith Welch said the local Games were a great success and agreed with Lunsford and Dennis that every athlete was a winner.

“The Special Olympics are unique opportunity for our special athletes to compete and to enjoy the fellowship of other special Olympians,” she said.

“It does them so much good and it’s wonderful for them to have this opportunity.”

Hundreds of athletes from all across the state will participate in the state Games at Troy University. The Pike County community is encouraged to come out and cheer on these athletes who are not only winners, they are brave in heart.

“It’s heartwarming to see this special athletes,” Lunsford said.

“Their happiness shows and it’s humbling to me to be a part of this event.”