Young athletes game for Special Olympics

Winners: Students run, jump and throw their way to applause and ribbons in area competition in Carroll County.

April 30, 1999|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

The thump of a ball through a hoop at 6 a.m. yesterday signaled that Amanda Walker was more than ready for her first year as an athlete in the Special Olympics Carroll County Spring Area Games.

The opening parade was a good four hours away, said her mother, Michelle Walker of Westminster, but Amanda, an 8-year-old student at Robert Moton Elementary School, couldn't wait.

"She was up this morning at 6 a.m., shooting baskets at the hoop with a plastic bowling ball. My husband asked, `What was that?' "

After more than three hours of outdoor events at the Westminster High School stadium, the little girl's energy and enthusiasm had not lagged. She showed her ribbons and demonstrated her skills -- clapping, shaking hands and hugging everyone within reach, or singing and dancing in a circle.

Amanda was one of about 170 athletes, ages 8 to 21, representing 18 county schools, Carroll Community College, and Carroll County Therapeutic Recreation Council.

The 92 events included 50- , 100- and 200-meter runs, a relay, standing and running long jumps and softball and tennis ball throws.

Family members from babies to grandparents watched and cheered, while the teen-age and adult volunteers served as "fans" -- previously called huggers -- to move the athletes from event to event at stations marked by big balloons around the sunny field.

Participants lined up along the awards box at the center of the field, where the announcer joked with and praised them.

Bruce Damasio said his 3 1/2-hour stint at the mike wasn't much of a stretch: He teaches social studies at Liberty High School, coaches the tennis team and announces games.

"This is one of the most gratifying things that you can do," Damasio said during a rare break in his duties, which he's undertaken for 10 years.

Pub Date: 4/30/99

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