Special Olympics competition comes to Fort Sill - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Special Olympics competition comes to Fort Sill

FORT SILL, Okla._Over five hundred athletes from across southwest Oklahoma stormed Fort Sill's Prichard Field for the annual Great Plains Area Special Olympics.

Athletes ranging in ages from 5 to 80 years old competed in over 15 events including the 50 meter dash, the standing long jump, and the shot put to name a few.

Jocilyn Gregory, 12, described crossing the finish line at one of the track events as being pretty awesome and said "it felt great!" She along with the other five hundred athletes did not have to do it alone. More than seven hundred Fort Sill soldiers volunteered their time, standing by the athletes every step of the way. 

"It feels like I am giving back that much more because the individuals are right there next to me," said Specialist Dale Benjamin.

Spc. Benjamin ran the 50 meter dash alongside one of the athlete's, an experience he says he will never forget.

"It was amazing. She was really close to her opponent and I was kind of nervous for a second, but when she pulled through at the end I was like ‘yes!'," recalled Spc. Benjamin.

Fort Sill has hosted the event for the last four years and event coordinator, Major Damon Schwan says this is the best year yet.

"This is a record number of volunteers for us this year. We have 750 volunteers. Last year, we had 400 so the community has really come together for the event this year," said Major Schwan.

He believes the collaborative event provides soldiers in school a unique and rewarding experience.

"In the army you get to do a lot of different things but nothing usually like this. So it is a different experience seeing all the students and athletes working together. It is something that I have never seen before," said Major Schwan.

A volunteer experience that he says falls right in line with ideals of Fort Sill and its soldiers.

"I think that the best thing about Fort Sill is that we are already volunteers to begin with, so to volunteer for this event is just part of our creed. So to have all these athletes and soldiers together is just very special," said Major Schwan proudly.

It was easy to see just how much Friday's event meant by the joy on every athletes face when they received their awards.

The next step for area athletes will be to prepare and raise money for the State Special Olympics competition that will be held in Stillwater between May 14 and May 16.

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