The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

April 9, 2014

Let the games begin

Turn on porch lights overnight Thursday for Special Olympic awareness run

By Jean Cole

— Nothing makes you love life like seeing the face of a Special Olympian crossing the finish line.

You can catch the feeling again Friday morning when the annual Limestone County Special Olympics events are held at Athens High School stadium.

About 180 athletes from each county school, Athens High and the Birdie Thornton Center will participate in the track and field events, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., said Annie Roberts, local director of Special Olympics. The co-director is Jessica Tyler.

The Special Olympics was started 48 years ago to provide year-round athletic activities and raise awareness for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

Turn it on for the SOAR

On Thursday night, about 20 runners trying to boost awareness of Friday’s Olympiad need Limestone County residents to turn on their porch lights and leave them on overnight. The annual Special Olympics Awareness Run, also called SOAR, begins at 2 p.m. Thursday at East Limestone High School and includes stops at all six county high schools. The runners will make the 75-mile journey across the county by running several miles, stopping to rest and eat, then hopping a van to the next stop and running again, Roberts said.

“Last year someone ran 50 miles straight,” she said.

East High pep rally

The run begins Thursday following a 2 p.m. pep rally at East Limestone High, where the runners will run a lap with Special Olympic athletes, she said. The runners are scheduled to be at Ardmore High at 5:30 p.m., Elkmont High at 7:30 p.m., West Limestone High at 10 p.m., Clements High at 3:30 a.m. Friday, Tanner High at 6 a.m. and Athens High at 8 a.m.

Remembering Alexis

Once they arrive at Athens High stadium Friday morning, the runners will run a victory lap with the Special Olympics athletes and then eat breakfast, Roberts said. At Friday’s opening ceremony of the games, there will be a balloon sendoff to mark the passing of a Special Olympics athlete, Tanner senior Alexis Hamilton, who died in her sleep March 4.