PITTSBURG — Quick times and long distances were recorded at the NAIA Champions of Character track & field meet on Wednesday inside the Robert W. Plaster Center.
The condensed track & field meet was put together by the Crawford County Convention Center and Visitors Bureau with help from several NAIA student-athlete volunteers for the Special Olympics participants of Kansas.
“We wanted to do something with the NAIA student-athletes that would be rewarding and positive,” Crawford County Convention Center and Visitors Bureau executive director Devin Gorman said. “Being in this area, special olympics came to mind. I was excited to see the special olympians and was glad that we could get ribbons, medals and everything that goes into the Special Olympics. I’m very happy for the Special Olympians competing today as well as the volunteers who are here today.”
High-fives and handshakes went all around after the conclusion of each event, as the competitors were always quick to congratulate opponents on a job well done.
“It’s really awesome to see the the NAIA athletes working with the Special Olympics,” President and CEO of Special Olympics in Kansas John Lair said. “Everybody is cheering them on and the athletes are having a great time. There is nothing like the smiles of Special Olympic athletes, that’s what it’s all. We just want them to feel like everybody else and let them have a chance to compete. That’s the best part about it.”
Hosting the event was not only special for the athletes participating, but also for the NAIA student-athletes who volunteered to help make the track & field meet a success.
“I really enjoy working with the Special Olympics,” Pittsburg native and Friends University student-athlete Chelsea Baker said. “I had the pleasure of being apart of similar events while I was in high school, so to be able to come back to Pittsburg to work with the Special Olympics is an amazing opportunity. It makes me really happy to see big smiles on their faces. I just really enjoy watching them compete,”
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.