Special Olympics runs with help from almost 1,000 volunteers

Saturday, April 12, 2014 | 8:23 p.m. CDT; updated 9:33 p.m. CDT, Saturday, April 12, 2014

COLUMBIA — More than 200 people with disabilities came together on Saturday to compete in the Special Olympics spring games at Rock Bridge High School. Athletes from 30 central Missouri counties participated in track and field competitions.

"The main goal is to provide competition for athletes who have been trained," organizer Diane Brimer from Special Olympics Missouri said.

Now in its 34th year, about 900 volunteers helped make the annual event possible. Among them were Lions Club organizations from Columbia and Hartsburg and MU's Greek Week, which has supported Special Olympics for 30 years. The high number of volunteers is necessary to guarantee that each participant has a one-on-one buddy to spend the day with, Brimer said.

We took pictures of participants and volunteers of the event. Here is a collection of some of them:

Justin M. Sparks participated for the fourth time "to have fun, compete and win a gold medal." Volunteers Leanne Wilson and Kayla Winking helped him to compete in 100m running, long jump and softball.

Bret Froeschner won the first medal of this year's Special Olympics Spring Games. He has participated in several Special Olympics events before, but the bronze medal in 4x100m running is his first medal ever. Volunteer Ken Jones said he has a great time with him.

Jacki Davidson and Angie Begemann from Columbia 20/20 Missouri Lions Club prepared 800 lunch boxes for athletes and volunteers. With four other Lions Clubs from Columbia and Hartsburg, this is their sixth year providing lunch, they said.

Proud moms Teri Walden and Becky Llorens from Columbia came to support their sons Cody Walden and Nick Llorens in 400m and 800m running and shot put.

Cheryl Storck and Sherri Holtgrewe said they coach people with disabilities in bowling, basketball and track. At the Special Olympics Spring Games on Saturday, they helped make sure athletes get to their competitions.

Do you want to see more? Read about other participants and volunteers at this year's spring games in our Facebook album of the event.

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