"All right Nick, let's show them how it's done," Jackie Messer shouted as Nick Terzia left the starting line to practice a soccer kick.
He and his fellow Evans High School athletes were practicing Monday for the county's Special Olympics, which will be Friday at Greenbrier High School's stadium.
About 195 athletes will be competing in the games this year, said Candy Padgett, the Special Olympics coordinator and a recreational therapist for the county.
"The athletes look forward to competing with students with like abilities," Padgett said. "They are competitors like everybody else, and they start talking about it the first day of school."
The event involves about 300 high-school volunteers.
"Each athlete who needs a buddy will have a high-school buddy to help them through the events, and high-school students will also help run the events," Padgett said.
The event begins about 10 a.m. with the parade of athletes. Each class will round the field with their banner that illustrates this year's theme: Get In the Game.
Special Olympic athletes also will sing The Star-Spangled Banner and will lead the Pledge of Allegiance and the Olympic Oath. Greenbrier High senior Jessica Feehly will light the Olympic torch.
"She is such a phenomenal athlete and such a dear, sweet student too," Padgett said. "She is so good with the younger students and such a big motivator."
Games will include the tennis ball throw, bat for distance, basketball slam dunk, kick for distance, running long jump, softball throw, kick and score soccer, soccer dribbling and various races.
Winners will go on to compete in area and state games. The region games will be March 31 at Fort Gordon.
Special Olympics are for intellectually challenged competitors.
Physically challenged students have the Paralympics, which will be April 16 at Evans High School. For the first time, this year's Paralympics will involve both Richmond and Columbia county athletes. About 40 orthopedically and visually impaired students will compete in those games.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Columbia County Special Olympics
WHEN: Friday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
WHERE: Greenbrier High School stadium, 5114 Riverwood Parkway
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