They won by having fun |

They won by having fun

Post Independent Photo/Kara K. Pearson W/ IV STORY Joe and Lorraine McNeal share a laugh with their daughter, Stephanie, right, while participating in the Special Olympics at the New Castle SuperBowl Saturday. The McNeal's have taken part in the Special Olympics since 1978.

As losing little league teams sometimes find out the hard way, winning isn’t everything.As the old saying goes, it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. Saturday at the SuperBowl in New Castle more than 100 team members from the Special Olympics demonstrated how much more important sportsmanship and fun is than winning as they knocked over pins at the Special Olympics regional bowling tournament.

Not once did someone yell out profanity, sulk in the corner or show any sign of bad sportsmanship. At any given moment, several teammates walked around introducing themselves and cheering on other teams.”I wish everyone would watch an event so they could see that winning isn’t everything,” said Lorraine McNeal.Lorraine and her husband, Joe, have been involved with the Special Olympics since their daughter, Stephanie, was 8 years old.Stephanie, 34, has Down’s syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects mental development.

Stephanie demonstrates extreme compassion, even when she’s competing. She first participated in the Olympics in 1978 in a track and field event. While racing, the girl next to her fell over. Stephanie was so concerned about the girl that she stayed with her until she stood up and as a result, lost the race.Stephanie’s sportsmanship fits perfectly with the Special Olympics credo: “Let me win but if I cannot win let me believe in the attempt.”Since 1978, Joe’s only seen half a dozen Special Olympics athletes demonstrate poor sportsmanship.Special Olympic competitions allow developmentally disabled people to get together, compete, socialize and feel they’re a part of something, said Julie Fite, area manager for the Special Olympics.

The bowling tournament is one of many Special Olympics events. Children with developmental disabilities, such as Downs’ syndrome, can join Special Olympics when they’re 8 and continue playing for as long as they want.Many athletes, such as Stephanie, advance to state competitions, but this year, Colorado’s Special Olympics can’t afford to send athletes to state competitions, Fite said.Mark McClure, 48, loves bowling and has competed at the state level for the past five years. McClure bowled two games Saturday scoring 151 on the first and 108 on the second. “Three years in a row he brought home four gold metals for the unified team,” said Merritt Moger, McClure’s coach.

The unified team is a four-person team made up of two Special Olympians and two nondisabled teammates.McClure won’t be able to bring home a medal this year because of budget cuts.”He’s better than most because he really knows how to listen,” Moger said. “He just puts the ball down in the center and it works. He has great form.”Spoken like a true coach.

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