Joseph Williams, left, of the Uniontown Day Training Center participates in the ceremonial torch run with Selma Mayor George Evans Wednesday at Memorial Stadium for the 33rd Annual Cahaba Center Special Olympics. -- Robert Hudson

Special Olympians compete Wednesday

Published 12:31am Thursday, April 5, 2012

Cahaba Center for Mental Health held its 33rd Annual Special Olympics Wednesday at Memorial Stadium, as those with special needs gathered in Selma to compete.

More then 130 individuals from Dallas, Perry, Wilcox, Washington and Clarke counties participated in track and field events including shot put throws, dashes, walks and relays among others.

But the athletes weren’t the only ones in attendance, as hundreds of supporters gathered in the stands and volunteers lined around the track to lend a helping had.

Tonya Gandy, developmental disability services director with Cahaba Center for Mental Health, said she was very happy with the turnout to this year’s event.

“I am very pleased. The volunteers were slow coming in, but then this past week they have poured in, so we are great,” Gandy said. “I like seeing the stands with folks in them and people standing in them cheering, so I’m very happy with that.”

Community organizations, students and organizations from local schools — including the Southside High School JROTC and band, Selma High School band, and Dallas County High School track and field team, as well as students from Morgan Academy and Meadowview Christian School — were just some of the many volunteers who gave their time to support the Special Olympics.

Gandy said it was great to see so many come out and show support.

“I think it’s wonderful. I think the more people that come out and become aware of us and what we’re doing here, the better it is,” Gandy said. “It’s good for our folks and it’s good for the community members to get to know our people. I think it’s great.”

Gandy said the Special Olympics gave those who participated the same joy of competition that every person deserves to have.

“It gives people that do have developmental delay, an opportunity to compete and to give that good feeling of winning and competing and being with their peers, and get to go further to the state level, national level and on like other athletes get to,” Gandy said.

Gandy said Dave’s Market in Valley Grande donated food for volunteers, while The Selma Area Food Bank, Knights of Columbus and Civitan were among those who donated to the Cahaba Center.

“Without stuff like that, we couldn’t do it,” Gandy said. “We’re just thankful that the community’s supporting us so that we can be able to do this.”

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