Disabled BYU athletes to compete in Special Olympics

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More than 150 disabled athletes will participate in the Central Area Track and Field Special Olympics competition Friday at 9 a.m. at Mountain View High School.

Competitions ranging from the 10M assisted walk, 25M dash, wheelchair races and field events will provide participants with an opportunity to show off all their hardwork and practice.

BYU’s Y-Serve provides students with an opportunity to volunteer with the Special Olympics throughout the year by holding weekly trainings and practices for the local physically and mentally disabled athletes.

Y- Serve special olympics program director Nicole Lawrence, a senior majoring in family studies, has loved learning from the athletes.

“Even with their struggles they can have such a positive outlook on life,” Lawrence said. “It helps me to have a better outlook on life.”

There are three Special Olympic seasons — basketball in the fall, bowling in the winter and track and field, soccer and softball in the summer.

Y-Serve program director Peter Barnes enjoys his experience building friendships with the athletes.

“The relationships that I’ve made with the athletes have by far been the most rewarding part of my service,” Barnes said.

Student volunteers feel they are more blessed by their service in helping run the Special Olympics than those they are serving and enjoy the love the athletes bring.

“I look forward to practice and competitions because I love being around them,” Barnes said. “It doesn’t matter if we are doing drills, cheering each other on or joking around and dancing after practice, being with the athletes is always a blast.”

Janae Barnes, from Spokane Wash., studying special education,  is also a special olympics program director in Y-Serve and enjoys simply being around the athletes.

“Our athletes are the most incredible people you will ever meet,” she said. “When we are with them and the amazing volunteers in the program, everything else tends to go away and you feel like you are with your closest friends and family.”

This Friday BYU will have 17 athletes competing in the area track and field games. This event prepares athletes for the Utah Special Olympics state competition taking place later this summer, on June 7 and 9 at Herriman High School.

The Utah’s Special Olympics has provided people with disabilities an opportunity to develop skills, build self-esteem, have fun and enjoy year-round sports and competition since 1968.

More information can be found and registration is available at www.sout.org/volunteer-overview.

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