As 1st Sgt. Lawrence E. Fairies was ready to present yet another ribbon to Mount Airy Middle School student Bruce Watt, the state troopersmiled and said, "Are you back again?"
Yes, Watt was back again, and he'll be busy with Special Olympics for the months ahead. He's headed to Minnesota this summer to take part in the International Equestrian Special Olympics.
Watt was just one of about 120 developmentally disabled athletes from across the county taking part in the twice-delayed Carroll County Special Olympics Thursday at Westminster High.
The games originally were slated for April 24, but threatening weather pushed them back one week. Ironically, the sun broke through the clouds just before 10 a.m. that morning.
But with a forecast of more rain on Wednesday, organizers pushed the event back one more day to Thursday. Once again, the weather forecast was wrong, as Wednesday was sunny and warm.
Thursday wound up being sunny, but a cool northwest breeze chilled the air.
That didn't seem to bother the athletes, though.
Bruce Martz of the Therapeutic Recreation Council, for example, proudly pulled open his jacket so a group of photographers could get a clear shot of the medal hanging from his neck. With the breeze catching hisjacket, Martz looked like he was cleared for takeoff from the Westminster stadium field.
And the wind did wreak havoc with the Frisbeethrow, a non-competitive recreation event. The breeze carried the flying discs all over the field and knocked targets over a few times.
But with the help of dozens of volunteers, events ran smoothly, as usual.
The Carroll workers have gotten so good at staging these games, in fact, that the county games have been selected as the best-run spring Special Olympics for two straight years, said Marsha Barger,director of the Carroll games.
One reason for the success of the games, of course, are the dozens of volunteers who help coordinate events, hand out medals and act as huggers to assist the athletes. And that doesn't include the hundreds of hours of behind-the-scenes work making sure the facilities are available, buying food for the athletes and arranging for emergency medical crews to be at the site.
Primary among the volunteers are a small army of Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. employees, who help coordinate the events.
And, of course, the huggers play a major role, encouraging the athletes and ushering them from event to awards stand to event to lunch and back to the bus for the ride home.
"It's a great combination of high school athletes and special athletes," said Zeno Fisher of Westminster, one of the C & P employees coordinating the event.
Indeed, athletes with varsity letter jackets from schools around the county could be seen all over the stadium yelling encouragement to the participants.
Meanwhile, everyone was braving the wind -- it's always windy, it seems, when they have the county's Special Olympics -- and most seemed to have a wonderful time doing it.
Like Allen Spielman, a student at Robert Moton Elementary in Westminster, who had a wide smile as he competed in the long jump to a chorus of "Go, Allen," from friends and huggers.