With a white, fourth-place ribbon pinned to his chest, Mark McCormick gave Barrett Hauswirth a high-five.
Barrett, his teammate, had just won first place in the 50 meter dash at Columbia County's Special Olympics Friday.
"Yea, Barrett, I'm proud of you. You get first place," Mark said to him.
"You go! That's right. We're fast, aren't we?" Barrett responded.
The 15 mile-an-hour winds and unseasonably cold weather didn't dampen the spirits of the 220 Columbia County athletes competing in the Special Olympics which were held at Greenbrier High School Friday. Nearly 150 student and adult volunteers were on hand to man the games.
"I like to do sports," said Tyler McLaughlin, a 10th grader from Evans High. "I plan to just have fun. That's what it's all about. Any game in America, you're supposed to have fun. It's not about winning or losing."
The athletes prepare for these games all year long in physical education classes and in community-based sports activities, said Cathy Justin, Columbia County director of Special Services.
"This is an opportunity for our exceptional students to demonstrate their athletic abilities," she said.
The local Special Olympics, which have taken place for the past 20 years, is part of the state-wide games. There are 20,000 special olympic athletes statewide, said Kelli Britt of the State Special Olympics. The Georgia Special Olympics summer games will be held May 31-June 2 at Emory University in Atlanta. The Special Olympics has sponsored games for the past 30 years.
"It's a time for athletes to focus on their abilities, rather than their disabilities - to compete like everyone else," Britt said. "It's a time when they can feel normal for one day."
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