Special Olympics Pennsylvania in Crawford County held its 39th annual Track and Field meet on May 8th at the Crawford County Fairgrounds. Over 350 athletes participated in the event and Heather Clancy Young, CEO of the Meadville Area Federal Credit Union, served as emcee. The first event of the day was the parade of athletes. Classrooms and groups lined up and marched to the front of the grandstand. Joyce Seeley of Maplewood School led the group in the National Anthem.
Meadville Area Senior High (MASH) students provided music while each of the schools and agencies marched in for Opening Ceremonies. Crawford County athletes Kyle Miller and Cody Hubert carried the torch and lit the Olympic cauldron; while, Bill Shaulis led the group in the Athlete Oath – “Let me win but if I cannot win let me be brave in the attempt.”
After opening ceremonies, each participant began their first competition event and could also participate in several fun activities like the Frisbee or bean bag throw, or participate in Olympic Village where carnival style games were set up and run by Thurston House staff, MASH students and volunteers. The event would not have run so smoothly without support from local tool and die shops, schools, agencies and businesses that came out to help make the day special. AVI Food Systems Inc., Nutrition Inc, and Mc Donald's provided lunch items for the 350 athletes.
This is the second year that Crawford County presented the Danny Zirkle Spirit Award. Danny participated in many local, sectional and state competitions. In 2008, he was awarded a special trophy for his sportsmanship at Fall Festival, which led to his induction into the Special Olympics PA Hall of Fame later that year. Danny exemplified the “spirit” of Special Olympics. The Spirit Award winner for 2013 is Tanner Holabaugh, a school aged athlete who helps out at the practices and encourages others to do their very best.