Speed of the essence in Special Olympics meet | PostIndependent.com

Speed of the essence in Special Olympics meet

Special to the Post Independent/Chad Filipski

CARBONDALE ” A lot of running around took place in association with a Special Olympics track meet at Roaring Fork High School Saturday ” some of it before the event even started.

Organizers learned only about two weeks ago that a big Special Olympics competition in Grand Junction was canceled because a high school regional meet had been scheduled for the same venue.

Undeterred, Chad Filipski and Colleen Boddy put together a last-minute, local competition in Carbondale. Some 45 athletes ranging in age from about 13 to 70 competed in running, throwing and wheelchair-racing events.

Most were clients of Mountain Valley Developmental Services, and MVDS staff helped put on the meet.

Cheryl Guay, mother of athlete Chris Guay, appreciated the efforts that went into making the event happen. She said it was important because participants must compete in a qualifier to have a chance at going to the state Special Olympics meet.

“This was just a bunch of people putting this on, which was so great, just doing their own thing,” she said. “They’re an amazing group of volunteers that are here.”

Boddy and Filipski, both Glenwood Springs Elementary School teachers, have been helping out with Special Olympics track and field events for a couple of years. Boddy’s sister had been a Special Olympian back East.

“I feel like they’re just the human spirit in the purest form,” Boddy said.

Said Filipski, “It’s the spirit of it that I think is the most important ” sports for the thrill of it rather than the raw competition piece, although that can be important too.”

Evoking that spirit, Chris Guay ran alone in the 5-kilometer run, which he said he can complete in about a half-hour. His mom said he ran about a 15-minute mile as a sophomore in high school, and cut that down to a 6-minute mile as a senior.

Chris Guay, who is now out of school and working at Safeway, has taken a couple of seconds in the state Special Olympics meet. He also has run in the Strawberry Shortcut in Glenwood Springs, which benefits Special Olympics.

“He does great. He’s been running all morning,” Cheryl Guay said, patting her son on the back as he waited for the 5K. “He makes me proud.”

Tracy Garrison of Glenwood Springs said she competed in the 400- and 200-meter walk/runs.

“The 400 is a long way to go around,” she said.

“Are you pooped, Tracy?” fellow participant Paula Prince asked.

“Yeah,” Garrison acknowledged.

The two and other participants were wearing rainbow-colored, tie-dyed shirts bearing the words “… Let me be brave in the attempt.” It’s the latter half of the Special Olympics motto, which starts out, “Let me win, but if I cannot win …”

Joe Herrera of Rifle ” “known as Elvis Presley because I’m an Elvis impersonator, ummm-hmmmmm” ” stood waiting for seconds as lunch was being served. Herrera had competed in the 200, 100 and shot put and had worked up an Elvis-sized appetite.

“I could eat five Big Macs right now. Five Big Macs and three orders of french fries; that’s how hungry I am,” Herrera said.

Instead, Saturday’s fare consisted of sandwiches and chips, dished out by MVDS staff including Linda Austin-Martin. She said new coaches are always welcome for Special Olympics events.

“It’s a wonderful experience, very fulfilling,” she said.

It can be inspirational, too. As other competitors relaxed and ate lunch, Chris Guay toiled away on the track, pounding out lonely laps to complete his 5K.

Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516


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