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Special Olympics track and field competition brings helpers, participants

Norman Transcript - 4/9/2017

April 09--Special Olympics Oklahoma Area Director Curtis Boyer said nearly 100 volunteers showed up Saturday at Norman High School to help with the Boomer Sooner Area Games Track & Field Competition.

"Volunteers are what keep this program going," Boyer said. "When you have several hundred athletes competing, you need a lot of bodies."

Volunteers came from several entities, including a Norman Boy Scout troop, high school and OU Greek organizations, OK Runner and Norman Kiwanis.

"We never have a shortage of volunteers -- something not a lot of people can say," Boyer said.

One volunteer has donated his time for about the last 20 years.

"It's a great feeling helping these kids accomplish a goal they've worked so hard to achieve," Rick Atkinson said.

Atkinson said his sister, Robin, who was a special education teacher for Norman Public Schools, introduced him to the Special Olympics.

"[Special Olympics] is a great program, and I hope it continues to grow," Rick said.

Norman High and Norman North High Schools had several students volunteer at the event, including Norman High senior wrestler Jon Suter.

"It's a great environment out here," Suter said. "Giving back to the community is great, but helping these kids is the biggest reason I come out here. You just can't beat the feeling."

Suter said he has volunteered at the Special Olympics since his sophomore year.

Norman North senior Grace Warren echoed Suter's comments and said the event is a great way to connect with others.

"I meet someone new and interesting every time I volunteer," Warren said.

Additionally, Boyer said about 300 athletes from several Oklahoma schools showed up to compete.

Norman elementary, middle and high schools competed at the event and did well, including Norman North'sKaraline Phariss and Norman High'sJacob Calger, who both took gold in the 30-meter electric wheelchair race.

Calger wasn't the only Norman High athlete to have eyes on gold. Drew Sumter, Jackson Cross and Liam McSorley all placed first in their respective events, as well.

Other Norman North top placers included Erin Swiderski, who took the top spot in the 400-meter run, and Christopher Norwood and Paul Woody, who both placed first in the 100-meter run.


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