Special Olympics athletes’ abilities on display in Fall Games
Hundreds of athletes stood on a westside lawn last Saturday at Fountain Valley Sports Park, each awaiting their chance to shine.
The Special Olympics Southern California Fall Games came to town last weekend, the opening ceremony demonstrating the strength and unity of those involved in a celebration of abilities.
Athletes and their supporters had traveled from afar, the competitors arriving from communities between San Diego and San Luis Obispo. Their journey, though, represents so much more, a willingness to push forward in the face of adversity.
Perhaps it is recognition of that resolve that leads to the words of the athlete oath, which was said in unison by all competitors to kick off the event.
“Let me win,” went the oath. “But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
For a couple decades now, Special Olympics athletes have been fulfilling their oath in Fountain Valley. Athletes competed in golf, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball, encouraged by sideline cheers.
Heptathlon Olympian Annie Kunz had the final words to send the assembled athletes into competition.
“Who’s ready?” she asked, before urging the athletes to make some noise. “Let the games begin.”
The Studio City Coyotes finished atop the standings in soccer. The AV Tigers topped the field in softball. South Bay Community’s “Can’t Hit This” was the champion in volleyball.
Among individual sports, Brooks Clarkson, 26, of the HB Crush won the Level 4 golf competition. Krystal Jeane Johnson of the Fontana Lions captured the singles title in tennis.
“We’re opening hearts and minds to acceptance and inclusion, and we are celebrating everybody’s abilities,” Kelly Pond, president and chief executive of Special Olympics Southern California, said in addressing the crowd. “That’s what we’re about this weekend. That’s what we’re about every day in every community.”
The ceremony included a strong turnout from law enforcement. The presentation of the colors was conducted by the honor guard of the Garden Grove Police Department.
Fountain Valley Police Chief Matt Sheppard was joined by resident Garrett Thompson, a member of the Garden Grove Rebels volleyball team, for the lighting of the torch. Orange County Sheriff’s Department uniformed personnel also performed push-ups at the conclusion of the morning’s program.
Mayor Kim Constantine said she was happy to welcome the athletes to town, and she hoped they would enjoy the day regardless of the results.
“I know it’s the Olympics and all that, and we have winners, but just have fun,” Constantine said. “Just enjoy the weather, too. So nice to be together out here.”
All the latest on Orange County from Orange County.
Get our free TimesOC newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Daily Pilot.