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Special Olympics underway at Troy University

The Special Olympics Alabama State Games made their return to Troy University Saturday, and athletes, coaches, parents and organizers were all on hand for the competitions.

For many, the trip to Troy for the games has become an annual event, but for some, this is their first experience with Special Olympics.

Stephanie Yawn, the Track Facility Coordinator for the event, played a huge role in organizing most of the track and field events in this, her first Special Olympics.

“It’s been a really good experience for me because I haven’t really been exposed to anything like this before,” Yawn said. “I was planning on volunteering initially, but when this opportunity to take a bigger role in the planning came up, I had to take it.”

For Yawn and most of the other people on hand Saturday, just being able to be part of the Special Olympics was a life-changing event.

“It’s been very enlightening for me,” Yawn said. “It’s just been great to be able to help play a role in these athletes’ big day.”

Others said they are able to draw inspiration from the athletes and their desire to compete.

“It’s just amazing watching how excited they are to be out here competing,” said Melissa Scarbrough, one of the Pike County team’s coaches and the Supervising Nurse for Troy City Schools. “We should all have their spirit. It doesn’t matter if they’re first or tenth. At the end of the day, they’re all winners.”

While most of the spectators were enjoying being inspired by the athletes, the athletes themselves were all about competition.

“It can be hard at times getting the athletes organized because they’re so eager to compete,” Yawn said. “They’re ready to go as soon as they get here.”

That eagerness paid off for the Pike County team in particular, as Scarbrough said the day had been kind to the local athletes.

“It’s been going great for us today,” Scarbrough said. “All our athletes from the pike County delegation have been successful, and they’ve all had a good time.”

Once the competition ends Saturday, the Special Olympians will convene one final time Sunday for the closing ceremonies at 10 a.m.