Special Olympians benefit in many ways from Strawberry Shortcut | PostIndependent.com

Special Olympians benefit in many ways from Strawberry Shortcut

Special Olympians running in the annual Strawberry Shortcut race carry no labels – except for athlete.”That’s why this is such a good thing,” said Jim Yellico, race director. “When they run in the mile race, they’re running alongside everybody else, people who don’t have any disabilities.”The 27th annual race, which takes place Sunday, has benefited the local branch of the Special Olympics since the mid-1980s, Yellico said. Anyone in the community can run or walk in the one-mile Family Fun Run, 5K or 10k race. Thirty Special Olympians from Mountain Valley Developmental Services will run or walk in the race this year, with up to eight manning the aid station at the first mile marker, said Linda Austin-Martin, coordinator of the recreation department at Mountain Valley.Glenwood resident and Special Olympian Kyle Slade has been “running pretty hard” to prepare for the big day, he said. A weightlifter – he said he can lift 155 pounds – Slade enjoys participating in the Strawberry Shortcut “because I get to see most of my friends.”The proceeds from the race will go to fund travel expenses for the Special Olympics Summer Classic, a competition of cycling, bocce ball, golf and tennis, area manager Julie Fite said. The annual torch run coordinated by area police departments provides another opportunity for Special Olympians to take part in their communities.David Hayes of Carbondale, a skiier and basketball player for the Special Olympics, has run in the event for 30 years.”For the torch run, I ran with the police officers from Aspen, and we came down to Glenwood,” Hayes said.His mother, Lois Hayes, said Special Olympics has been a integral part of David’s life.”Special Olympics is what he anticipates and looks forward to, what keeps him in shape,” she said.At the finish line on Sunday, Special Olympians will complete the race to resounding cheers and applause from residents along the sidelines.”Its great for them to say, ‘I’m a member of this community,'” Fite said.Contact Christine Dell’Amore: 945-8515, ext. 535cdellamore@postindependent.com

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