Fort Gordon’s Barton Field packed for the Area 9 Special Olympic Games

Fort Gordon’s Barton Field packed for the Area 9 Special Olympic Games
Special Olympic athletes after their race (Lex Juarez)

FORT GORDON (WFXG) - Over 1,000 people joined together on Fort Gordon’s Barton Field Thursday, March 28 for the Area 9 Special Olympic Games. Athletes were surrounded with cheers, and smiles filled every face as athletes competed in events.

Necole Holling had two eight-year-old boys competing. She said, “It’s been amazing just watching them interact, seeing the fun that they’re having.” The boys competed amongst over 800 athletes, ranging from ages 5 until 70. 200 of the athletes represented came from Richmond County. Norman Williams, Richmond County Special Olympics Coordinator, said, “They’re winners. They’re winners today, and that’s whats important.”

Around 500 athletes volunteers worked to put on the event. Arthur Dickerson, Chairman of Area 9 Advisory Board, said, “It means a lot because of the volunteers, we couldn’t get this many volunteers nowhere else.” The volunteers said it touched them to be part of the event. Soldier Allen Jones said, “It’s a wonderful experience; the reaction on their face. The smiles, the laughs." Another volunteer soldier, Myia Jackson, added, "It’s very heartwarming. It just fills you up with joy knowing you’re making everyone else happy and being supportive.”

Despite concerns with national funding of the games, local organizers say Special Olympics right here in our area should continue as normal. Dickerson said, “We don’t get a lot of funding from the state. What we have to do is have our own fundraisers in the state.” Williams said, “Hopefully in the country that we are, nonprofit, private people will step up and bring it forward.”

A little over 200 athletes who participated in today’s games will go to the State Special Olympics in Atlanta in May.

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