Looking every bit as if they were having the time of their lives, 200 disabled youngsters from throughout the Washington metropolitan area competed for coveted victory ribbons at the Sixth Annual Lorton Special Olympics last Saturday at the Lorton Correctional Facility.
Paired one-on-one with individual Lorton residents, the youngsters -- 125 boys and 75 girls -- competed in dozens of track and field events and athletic clinics, Sydney Davis, 35, Lorton inmate and director of the Lorton Special Olympics chapter, said.
"That this project worked so well should be an indication that inmates can be rehabilitated and socialized and that kids can have a good time, improving their self-image as they compete," Davis said.
The Lorton "Olympics" is the only Special Olympics in the nation to be held at a correctional facility, according to Davis, who said he and Donald Robinson, another Lorton inmate spent close to a year planning this years festivities.
The event kicked off with a parade led by 20 Navy Color Guard servicemen in conventional military dress. As the youth chanted the Special Olympics motto, "Let me win but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt," parents and friends cheered on the young competitors.
For many of the retarded and handicapped youths, this year's Olympics offered a first chance to enter full-fludged competition, Davis said. But many of the events were demonstrations, designed to have neither winners nor losers, he added.