Stars shine at Special Olympics games

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

PONTOTOC – Saltillo High School’s Devin Guy was ready for Friday’s Special Olympics.
So ready, in fact, that she had spent the last few weeks running laps around her house to prepare for the track events.
“She is looking forward to this like it is the real Olympics,” said Devin’s mother, Lori Guy. “She has been talking about it every day. She said she was ready to go and race and that she would win a medal.”
Guy was among about 300 athletes who competed Friday in the Area 11 Special Olympics at the Pontotoc City Track and Field.
Area 11 includes Pontotoc, Lee, Union, Prentiss, Alcorn, Tishomingo, Itawamba and Tippah counties. Friday’s competition featured athletes ages 3 to 44, Holcomb said.
“It is just a thrill to see the excitement on the athletes’ faces,” said Patricia Holcomb, Area 11 director. “It is an opportunity for them to wear their school colors and be proud of themselves.”
Not only were the athletes representing their school, but most of them over age 8 also were competing to qualify for the State Games.
Many adults who had already graduated were there to compete for state, which will be held May 11-13 at Keesler Air Force Base. The group usually takes about 75 athletes and 20 coaches to that competition, Holcomb said, and they will look at those who won first place in their events to determine who will be in that number.
Fifteen events staged Friday included runs and relays, walks and assisted walks, a wheelchair race, softball and tennis ball throws, long jumps, basketball and croquet, among others.
“Most of the fun is the track,” said Jasper McKnight, 23, who is no longer in school but who was hoping to qualify for state. “I love running. That is what I love to do in life.”
Alex Hall, 14, of Kossuth High School, said he enjoyed the wheelchair race because he could go fast, while Shannon High School’s Desmond Brown, 17, liked shooting basketball. Assisting the athletes was an army of volunteers, including a large number of fellow high school students and a contingent from Walmart distribution center in New Albany.
chris.kieffer@journalinc.com