Flag Football Sparks Competition for Special Olympians

Published 09/24 2012 12:27AM

Updated 09/25 2012 12:46PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo) Fans, encouragement and families make Special Olympics athletes shine.

"We are faster than anyone," said player Jordan McCorkmack

Flag football was the game, as the Special Olympics athletes were driven by a goal greater than the scoreboard during an event in Cameron Sunday.

"We celebrate scoring a goal just as much as winning a game," said organizer Katie Hrenchir.

"You've got everybody cheering on everybody, the competition aspect isn't what it is for other athletes. Even just getting their hands on the ball is exciting," said volunteer Janet Beard.

The Special Olympics offers anyone who loves the game, the opportunity to play the game.

They learn good sportmanship along the way.

"I was not nervous actually because our team's a good team and they play right," said wide-receiver Deston Miller.

In this game,  traditional athletes as well as those with mental challenges are playing side by side, a unified team, working as one.

"Everybody has their own thing, and bringing it to the table and maybe one person doesn't have this and the other does and once you put it all together it equals greatness," said Cameron High School Senior Michael Richardson.

Richardson is part of the unified team and one day hopes to teach art to special education students.

All athletes are medaled, and for the families of these athletes, they see potential realized.

"My brother has taught me to live every day to the fullest, and he's never sad, he's never angry, he's always happy, and I think that's the way we should live," said Hrenchir.

"[My son] did some baseball, swims, and without them this wouldn't even be possible without the Special Olympics," said Ron Bull, head coach of the Dragons.

And once these athletes get a taste of victory, there's no stopping them.

"Some of these athletes out here are in their seventies and they are still competing on the football field," said Hrenchir.

Winners of Sunday's event will advance to the next competition in Cape Girardeau, Mo.

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