The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

March 27, 2014

Special dedication: Vance hosts Special Olympics

ENID, Okla. — Despite a strong south wind that threatened to rip the American flag from the hands of a diminutive female member of the Silver Talon Honor Guard during the national anthem, hundreds of athletes competed Thursday in the 44th annual Cherokee Strip Area 6 Special Olympics track and field meet at Vance Air Force Base.

Some 200 athletes from Garfield, Grant and Kay counties took part in 16 track and field events. This was the final qualifying meet for the state Special Olympics Summer Games, set for May 14-16 at Oklahoma State University.

For the second straight year, Enid High School head football coach Steve Chard addressed the assembled athletes after they had made their annual triumphant march around the Vance track.

“In my job, which is about competition and athletics every day, one of the most important attributes that we always look for in any athlete to have success, is a great attitude and work ethic,” Chard said. “I’ve seen that last year and I see it again today, the dedication that all you athletes have made to be here and ready to compete today.”

As with all athletes, victory is the goal of all Special Olympians. But the effort is just as rewarding as the result, as reflected in the Special Olympics oath, “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

“Like your creed says, as long as you’re in the arena and trying, you’re a success today,” said Chard. “I can’t express the respect I have for all you athletes here today.”

The event was held at Vance for the 26th straight year, thanks to more than 200 volunteers from across the base who annually help put on the event, as well as volunteers from local high schools.

“This day wouldn’t be possible without all the volunteer help that we have,” said 71st Flying Training Wing commander Col. Darren James. “The high school kids who come in from the community to be part of this day are just tremendous.”

Just before opening the meet, James wished the athletes well during their competition.

“I want you to compete hard and I want you to wear those ribbons that you will earn with great pride,” said James.

James said he anticipates the Special Olympics to remain a spring fixture at Vance well into the future.

“It’s a relationship that we will continue to support,” said James, “as long as they’re willing to have us. It’s a great team event between us and the community.”

Annual Area 6 Special Olympics awards were handed out just prior to the start of the games. Betsy Heasley was named coach of the year, while Baylee Logan received the spirit award, which goes to an athlete who has faced challenges with courage and determination. Kathy Morgan was named volunteer of the year, while Jeremy Clickner was chosen as athlete of the year.

The 2014 family of the year award went to Esterlene Sanders, Raeshaan Finley, Renata Finley, Henry Evans and Xavier Evans.

“The athletes, they enjoy it,” said Enid Mayor Bill Shewey. “The wind won’t bother them. They’ll take these memories with them the rest of their lives. When they leave Vance Air Force Base, they’ll remember today.”

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