More than 250 athletes on hand for CV CAN GAMES

LA CRESCENTA — Ryan Muir let out a yell for all of the athletes at the CV CAN Games to hear.

Muir had just finished a throw in the shot put competition at the Special Olympics qualifying event and was as thrilled as any other athlete, no matter where his shot put landed.

He had reason to celebrate.

He walked away with an award, as did all of the other athletes competing at the games Saturday at Crescenta Valley High.

“You have to realize that 40 years ago, these guys never left the house,” said Sherry Netherland, Muir's shot put coach from Westside. “Now these guys are coming out and they are competing.”

“I feel like I'm a heck of a good coach,” Netherland added with a smile.

Competitors, coaches, fans and the hundreds of volunteers were all smiles at the fourth annual games, which were hosted by CV CAN, a non-profit community organization that was founded in 2003 and stands for Crescenta Valley Committed to Athletic Needs.

“We have brought awareness here to Crescenta Valley about the Special Olympics,” said Grace Chase, the organizer of the event. “Our goal is to get our local athletes involved with the Special Olympics.”

Chase had more than 500 volunteers on hand to help as friends, scorers and simply as fans to cheer on 255 athletes from Antelope Valley, Glendale, Ventura County, Long Beach and other surrounding cities.

“I volunteer because Special Olympics is something I've always been a part of,” said Elizabeth Ippolito, whose mom, Kim Villa, was the volunteer coordinator, with Villa getting help from her husband, Richard, eldest daughter, Stephanie Villa Davis, and both of her son-in-laws.

“Volunteering together is something I have been doing since I was two. It's something that we are all passionate about, this especially.”

The event started with a message from Patrick McClenahan, a 1976 Hoover High grad and Glendale resident who is the President and CEO of the Special Olympics World Games Organizing Committee, which is preparing for the 2015 games in Los Angeles.

McClenahan's 26-year-old daughter Kelly, who has cerebral palsy and also graduated from Hoover, watched the festivities with her family, supporting her dad, and watching her mom, Karren, and older brother, Eric, volunteer in various capacities while sipping on her always handy Diet Coke.

“This is a tremendous event with tremendous support,” Pat McClenahan said. “The ability for this community to engage the Glendale Unified School District and the special ed community is tremendous.”

Special Olympic athletes had the chance to compete in a variety of walk, run, relay and wheelchair races and field events that included softball toss, long jump and shot put.

Crescenta Valley High swimmers James Porcell, Antonio Camarillo and Brian Dertli, all seniors, enjoyed their day off from grueling practices to volunteer as buddies to the athletes Saturday.

“We want to give back to the community,” Camarillo said.

Porcell wants to see the event continue to grow.

“I did it last year and I recommended it to the guys,” he said. “We signed up and it is awesome. I want to continue to invite more people and make this a bigger and bigger event. We love it.”

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