Marshall County Special Olympics Brings Hundreds Together

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Special needs students from across Marshall County gathered at the Boaz track Tuesday morning for the Special Olympics.

Boaz Schools director of special education Connie Rigsby said about 200 children walked, ran, rolled, and jumped their way to ribbons and medal podiums.

"I would tell you it's just darn fun for them. They just love it, and we give them as much as we can give them today," Rigsby said.

Hundreds of volunteers including many students from county schools cheered on the Olympians, which Boaz mayor Tim Walker said is a great representation of the community.

"It cares, it cares about all people," Walker said.

"I hear of so many people that have problems, but if you think you've got problems, look around you. We've been so blessed it's unbelievable."

Eric Gillespie of Albertville said his 8-year-old daughter Marissa's participation in the games helped her develop a more social personality.

"She used to be real quiet and docile," he said.

"She wouldn't talk much, she wouldn't even walk, very non-active, but now's she's just non-stop on the go.

"It means a lot to see that she's enjoying herself. It's good to see she's having a good time, and she's having fun it and the other kids too," Gillespie said, after Marissa won a first place blue ribbon.

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Just like the winter and summer Olympics, the games began with the lighting of a torch after the flame made a journey.

Before the opening ceremonies, law enforcement personnel carried the torch 5.8 miles from Albertville to Boaz.

Marshall County District Attorney Steve Marshall led most of the Law Enforcement Torch Run this year.

"This is our way of demonstrating that these kids have a special bond and connection with what we do in law enforcement and it's really our way of being able to give back and recognize these special students." Marshall said.

Third year Special Olympics participant Dylan Shifflett carried the torch in a lap around the field.

"It's just fun running for the people that have a disability, and it shows that they can do it too," the 19-year-old said.

He credits the games for his interest in jogging.

"The second year, I just started running. It was fun, and I decided to try to run the torch," Shifflett said.

Law enforcement officers from across the state will carry a torch from Decatur to Troy on May 17th and 18th, leading up to the 2012 Alabama State Special Olympics at Troy University.

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