Feat of a meet

Re­turns to Ply­mouth-Whitemarsh High School Satur­day More than 100 ath­letes from Chester, Delaware and Mont­gomery coun­ties to com­pete

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Gary Puleo gpuleo@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Mus­tangMan48 on Twit­ter

PLY­MOUTH » Well over 100 Spe­cial Olympics ath­letes will run, jump or heave their way to some well-earned medals at the Spe­cial Olympics Re­gional In­vi­ta­tional Track and Field Meet on Satur­day at Ply­mouth-Whitemarsh High School.

All they need is a lit­tle co­op­er­a­tion from the weather.

Scott Ot­ter­bein, the Spe­cial Olympics Mont­gomery County man­ager, has been keep­ing a watch­ful eye on the fore­cast all week.

“We’re hop­ing the rain isn’t as bad as the fore­cast is, be­cause we hold the event rain or shine,” Ot­ter­bein said, adding that only a heavy thun­der­storm will re­sult in the event be­ing can­celed.

“With thun­der and light­ning we’re re­quired to stop due to safety con­cerns. We don’t want the ath­letes out in the open or in the stands,” he ex­plained. “Peo­ple can check Face­book for up­dates. It’s a big week­end for Spe­cial Olympics, with the Restau­rant Rally the next day,” Ot­ter­bein added, re­fer­ring to the Con­shohocken AMBUCS Restau­rant Rally, the an­nual tast­ing event that raises money for Spe­cial Olympics pro­grams.

In ad­di­tion to Mont­gomery County’s renowned Wicked Fast team, this year’s Spe­cial Olympics

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Re­gional In­vi­ta­tional Track and Field Meet will be wel­com­ing sev­eral new­com­ers, Ot­ter­bein noted.

“Chester County is com­ing with teams for the first time in about 20 years, and Delaware County is send­ing a group of ele­men­tary school 8-year-olds who’ve never done a tour­na­ment any­where. They’re do­ing a 50-me­ter run, which is a fairly short run. An­other new team from Delaware County has 10- and 12-yearolds, and it’s their first ex­pe­ri­ence as well. They’ll be do­ing the 100 me­ter and 200 me­ters and the long jump, and their coaches are re­ally look­ing for­ward to it. This is new for them so we’ll work with them to ac­com­mo­date their ath­letes’ needs all we can.”

With a new event sched­uled for Satur­day’s track meet, a 4 x 200 me­ter re­lay, teams from Bucks, Le­high and Mont­gomery coun­ties are ex­pected to com­pete, with a goal of qual­i­fy­ing for the Penn State Spe­cial Olympics the first week­end in June. El­iz­a­beth Mal­colm of the Wicked Fast track team from Mont­gomery County takes off dur­ing the long jump com­pe­ti­tion dur­ing last year’s in­vi­ta­tional event at Ply­mouth-Whitemarsh High School.

“Mont­gomery County sends sev­eral hun­dred ath­letes there to com­pete in bas­ket­ball, track, golf, eques­trian and soft­ball,” said Ot­ter­bein, who said that the dozens of vol­un­teers who will turn out on Satur­day are an in­valu­able as­set to the an­nual event.

“We have vol­un­teers from Wal­mart, Amer­iHealth, Wells Fargo, the Na­tional Char­ity League,” Ot­ter­bein said, not­ing that some vol­un­teers serve as buddy es­corts for the ath­letes, stick­ing with them through the com­pe­ti­tions all the way to the awards pre­sen­ta­tion.

As Ot­ter­bein ex­plained, Spe­cial Olympics Mont­gomery County is ac­cred­ited as one of 56 lo­cal pro­grams oper­at­ing un­der Spe­cial Olympics Penn­syl­va­nia (SOPA), which in turn op­er­ates un­der the author­ity of Spe­cial Olympics, Inc.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion, which is home to around 1,500 ath­letes a year, of­fers train­ing and com­pe­ti­tion for in­di­vid­u­als with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties such as Down syn­drome, Autism Spec­trum Dis­or­der and Frag­ile X Syn­drome, from age 7 to se­niors, in 20 sports at var­i­ous venues all over the county, in­clud­ing Spring Mountain Ski Area, Boy­er­town YMCA, Fa­cen­daWhi­taker Lanes and Flour­town Coun­try Club, where the County Golf Com­pe­ti­tion will be held on June 24.

Com­ing on the heels of tour­na­ments in ski­ing, ice skat­ing, gym­nas­tics, bas­ket­ball and an eques­trian show, the Spe­cial Olympics Re­gional In­vi­ta­tional Track and Field Meet, hosted by AMBUCS Con­shohocken chap­ter and Spring­field Ro­tary, is one of the most pop­u­lar of the year-round Spe­cial Olympics events, draw­ing com­peti­tors and spec­ta­tors from all of the sur­round­ing coun­ties.

“We have 20 sports through­out the year and each sport has its own tour­na­ment or com­pe­ti­tion. Spe­cial Olympics has re­ally grown since the be­gin­ning. It used to be when we started the track meet more than 25 years ago we had two teams and 40 com­peti­tors, and this year we have 147 par­tic­i­pants,” said Ot­ter­bein, who al­lowed that the ca­ma­raderie the ath­letes ex­pe­ri­ence is gen­er­ally more im­por­tant to them than the com­pet­i­tive na­ture of the event.

“The so­cial as­pect is re­ally strong and it re­ally makes a difference in their lives.”

Ply­mouth-Whitemarsh High School is lo­cated at 201 E. Ger­man­town Pike, Ply­mouth Meet­ing.

Open­ing cer­e­monies for the Spe­cial Olympics Re­gional In­vi­ta­tional Track and Field Meet are at 9:15 a.m.

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit spe­cialolympic­smontco.org.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Mem­bers of the Wicked Fast track and field team pose with head coach and county man­ager Scott Ot­ter­bein dur­ing the 2017 meet at Ply­mouth Whitemarsh High School. Ot­ter­bein, de­spite the im­pend­ing wet fore­cast, ex­pects a record-num­ber of com­peti­tors at Satur­day’s event.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Wicked Fast team mem­ber Sean DeWees makes the long jump look easy dur­ing the 2017 meet at PW high school.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

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