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April 10, 2014
By
Ms. Marie Berberea (TRADOC)
Source:  www.army.mil

FORT SILL, Okla. -- Athletes from 30 different schools and organizations showed up to compete in the Great Plains Area Four Special Olympics April 4.

Four hundred adult athletes took to the different events on Prichard Field and 100 athletes ages 3-7 years old played inside Honeycutt Fitness Center.

"It's a chance for them to compete with their peers and their families get a chance to see them do their very best," said Maj. Damon Schwan, 30th Air Defense Artillery operations officer.

Connie McDonald, Fort Sill first lady, said this post has many things to be proud of and hosting the Special Olympics is on the top of that list.

"Fort Sill brings the resources that the Special Olympics can't usually produce on their own," said Schwan. "Mainly manpower."

This was the fourth year Fort Sill hosted Special Olympics since 9/11, and the number of volunteers has almost doubled. Last year, there were 400 and this year 750 cheered on and even participated alongside the athletes.

"I ran the 50-meter dash and I ran against my opponent and beat her. It felt good and I ran out of breath and my knees are hurting and I ran against an Army guy and made him run out of breath," said Misty McDowell, Athletes of Grady County.

She took first place in the 50-meter dash, alongside her volunteer for the day, Spc. Dale Benjamin, 30th ADA Brigade.

"Even though I'm in the Army, it feels like I'm giving back that much more because the individuals that I'm helping out are right here next to me," said Benjamin.

After months of planning, Schwan and the others could see their efforts in action as the field was filled with athletes competing in the different events such as the wheel chair races, shotput and long jump.

"We're already volunteers so this is something you don't usually get to do as a Soldier, but this is one of those events that I've been looking forward to because this is giving back to the community that gives back so much to us," said Schwan.

After the Special Olympics torch was presented, McDonald offered some extra verses to the Special Olympics oath: "Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."

"As you speak those words please consider thinking these words as well: Let me win for I have already won. I am here. I am brave. I am standing near this Special Olympics torch. I stand in its light. I am a competitor. My attempt is the inspiration of those who are here to see me run as if I fly; to see me throw as if I reach the farthest distance; to see me jump to the sky; to see and cheer the athlete I am inside.

"Let the things measured be the rapid beat of my heart, the glistening sweat on my brow and the radiant smile on my face. The things to be grateful for are the people who believe in me, the people who have provided this event and my opportunity to be a winner. For the spectators, cheer loud and cheer often for you will be in the presence of the best of the human spirit," said McDonald.

While the athletes celebrated their individual victories, the Operation Live Well Expo carried on in the adjacent field and inside New Post Chapel.

"This way the community can come see our event, they can go learn about healthy living and they can learn about safety for their homes and their families. I think it's a really good idea to have all three events together," said Schwan.

For more photos from Special Olympics visit www.flickr.com/fortsillcannoneer.