Mabank’s team of 14 competes in field of more than 3,000 athletes; brings home 35 medals and ribbons
Special to The Monitor
ARLINGTON–Wearing their green team shirts, 14 Mabank-area athletes tested their abilities against the best athletes from across Texas during the 2013 Special Olympics summer games at the University of Texas at Arlington.
Held at Maverick Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas at Arlington, Thursday through Sunday, May 23-26, the summer games featured track and field events, softball throw, javelin toss, shot put, basketball, cycling, gymnastics, soccer, and tennis.
More than 3,000 athletes, 750 coaches, and 3,750 volunteers made the three day event a success.
The Mabank Special Panther athletes competed in shot put, javelin throw, soft ball throw, motorized wheelchair race, 50 meter run, 100-meter walk, 100-meter run, and 100-meter four-person relay race.
Despite the fierce competition the Mabank delegation brought home 35 medals and ribbons.
The Mabank team was led by head track and field coach Dennis Kirkpatrick. He was supported by assistant coaches Judy Spivey and Sharon Young.
The Mabank Special Panthers are headed up by Teddie and Merritt Harpole, who have both been active in Special Olympics since the 1990s.
The Harpoles and other volunteers work tirelessly to solicit financial support from the community and because of generous community support Mabank athletes are able to compete in local, regional and state competitions.
Parents are also encouraged to participate with their athletes through monthly meetings.
Mabank Special Panther results were:
• Kyle Bawner – first place, 50-meter run, second place in soft ball throw and fourth place 100-meter relay race;
• Thomas Brown – second place soft ball throw, fourth place 100-meter relay race and fifth place 100-meter run;
• Jennie Handlin – second place 100-meter run, second place 100-meter relay race and fourth place soft ball throw;
• Stephanie Harney – third place 100-meter run;
• Jennifer Howson – first place 100-meter run, second place 100-meter relay race and second place soft ball throw;
• Meghann Jones – first place 100-meter walk and eighth place soft ball throw;
• Taylor Kirkpatrick – first place 50-meter walk and sixth place soft ball throw;
• Brian Moore – third place 100-meter run and fourth place 100-meter relay race;
• James Reagan – fourth place 100-meter relay race, fifth place 100-meter run and fifth place shot put;
• Conner Reed – 50-meter motorized wheelchair race and second place soft ball throw;
• Angel Thacker – second place soft ball throw and third place 50-meter run;
• Amanda Underwood – first place soft ball throw, first place 100-meter run and second place 100-meter relay race;
• Paige Watson – second place soft ball throw and fifth place 100-meter run; and
• Kathrine Young – second place 100-meter relay race and fourth place 100-meter run.
Special Olympics began in the 1950s and 1960s through the efforts of Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
She held a summer day camp in her backyard for young people who had intellectual disabilities.
The emphasis was on having those young people participate in activities they could do.
Today, Special Olympics serves more 3.7 million intellectually disabled athletes from more 170 countries.
Athletes range in age from 8 years old and up. They are able to participate in 32 Olympic-style summer and winter sports. Special Olympics allows people with intellectual disabilities to gain confidence in their abilities, connect with others, experience joy, and find success.
The Special Olympics Athlete Oath says it all, “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”