Athletes take field at Special Olympics

- The Hillsborough County Special Olympics brought hundreds of amazing athletes to Tampa Saturday to compete in track, tennis, soccer, and even bocce ball.

The joy and excitement nearly 600 competitors brought to the games was inspirational.

“Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

That's the oath every Special Olympics athlete takes.

"It means that we do our best and come out and compete and try to bring home the gold" said Dallas McClain.

And on Saturday at the Hillsborough County Special Olympics held at Berkley Prep, every competitor from court, to field, to track, lived up to those words.

They gave their all on a special day where special athletes are celebrated for the champions they are.

"It gives the athlete such a great deal of confidence in themselves," Special Olympics coach Sandy Denham said. “It's a team that has athletes with disabilities and some don't have disabilities.”

She says unified sports teams bring athletes together.

"Unfortunately, in today's society, intellectually disabled people are not always treated as equals and in unified sports they are equal," Coach Denham said.

Athletes from every age group, with every level of ability are welcome in the Special Olympics. The games give these athletes a chance to experience the best things in life.

Athlete Kathy Pilczuk says she competes in the games, “to have fun and be with my friends.”

And Lauren Daily said, "My favorite part is whenever something good happens. Just the look on their faces is one of pure joy and excitement. These are some of the most genuine people I've ever met."

Win or lose, everyone at the Special Olympics is having a ball.

"It's been life changing for me. I've been able to participate in a variety of sports: soccer, basketball, volleyball, bowling," said. Doug McGee.

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