The community is invited to join in the "Olympic spirit" Friday morning to cheer on this year's local athletes of the Tift County Special Olympics. This annual event is scheduled to take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Eighth Street Middle School track. However, in case of inclement weather, the rain date is May 2.
The public is encouraged to attend and become a fan in the stands and cheer on Tifton's special athletes, says Jill Bergeron, who serves as the coordinator on the Tift County Special Olympic Board of Directors.
Admission to the event is free. For the first time this year, the board is adding special needs pre-kindergarten students. Approximately 190 athletes will be participating in this year's Special Olympics. They will receive a T-shirt, medal and trophy. There will be 12 different games, including basketball, soccer, bowling, relay and the 50-yard dash.
Bergeron said the 50-yard dash, which is the last event, is "incredibly exciting."
She has said in a past Tifton Gazette article that the Special Olympics "is the opportunity for them (athletes) to be winners, compete and enjoy the day with their fans cheering them on."
The Tift County Special Olympics is a nonprofit organization that depends on the generosity of the community. Monetary donations are welcome. All money donated stays in Tift County and goes toward the Special Olympics athletes. Financial support is used to host the local games and send some of the athletes to state and regional Special Olympics games. To help with donations, a few T-shirts will be sold at Friday's event.
Other than Bergeron, volunteers of the Tift County Special Olympic Board of Directors are Nancy Mark, secretary; Jane Ledlow, treasurer; Bobby Fresh; Jan Fletcher; Sandy Fletcher; Tammy Jones; Joe Ledlow; Beth Lewis; Duncan McClusky; Melanie Roberson; Kevin Robinson; Kim Rutland; and Meredith Rutland.
The board asks that people join them Friday for an "unforgettable and heartwarming experience."
For more information, to donate or volunteer, contact Bergeron at 848-5021.
To contact reporter Latasha Ford, call 382-4321.