The Second Annual D.C. Special Olympics Fall Games, held last Saturday at Brightwood Recreation Center in Rock Creek Park, gave some very special athletes a chance to enjoy the thrill of competition and the company of caring friends.
Nearly 250 mentally retarded adults and teen-agers competed in frisbee-throwing contests, foot races, horseshoe pitching, tennis, golf, croquet, fly casting, volleyball, badminton and other games. Participants included students and clients from the D.C. Association for Retarded Citizens Occupational Training Center, the Developmental Services Center, the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Institute, the Forest Haven Children's Center, the Grimke Special Education Center, St. Elizabeth's Hospital and D.C. Village.
The games were sponsored by the U.S. Probation Office, with nearly 300 volunteers on hand from at least a dozen organizations and community service groups to give the special athletes one-on-one attention.
"The main purpose of the Special Olympics and its year-round programs is to promote improvements in the psychological, physical and social development of mentally retarded citizens through positive experiences in sports," said D.C. Special Olympics spokesman Chuck Harris.
"We depend solely on volunteer organizations and community resources to run these games for us," Harris said. "Our staff of seven spends most of our time organizing interested groups and individuals in areas where they can be the most effective.
"And we've been fortunate to receive such tremendous support from so many organizations and individuals in staging our fall games this year and last," he said.
From the smiles and looks of determination and excitement on the athletes' faces as they competed, it seemed evident that this year's games achieved their goal.