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Cabell Athletes Compete In Special Olympics

Reported: May. 2, 2014 1:46 PM EDT
Updated: May. 2, 2014 11:14 PM EDT
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (Darrah Wilcox) -- Nearly 400 athletes from elementary, middle and high schools in Cabell County gave it their all in the spring games of the Special Olympics today.

The athletes competed in events like the 50-meter dash, shot put, and long jump, and there was one athlete in particular who was extremely grateful to be participating this year.

"He likes just to compete with the kids even if he's not the fastest, he just loves being with the kids and around them. It's fun," Elicia Dunfee, mom to athlete Cameron, said.

After competing all through elementary school, obstacles prevented Cameron Dunfee, from competing in sixth and seventh grades. His mom learned a clerical error nearly kept Cameron and about 20 kids on the sidelines this year, but some last-minute scrambling got them in the games.

"We were really excited finding out that they've got things taken care of, they got the kids in. It made the kids so happy," she said.

Dunfee competed in the 50 and 100-meter runs, and also the long jump.

"It's something for the kids to be able to get out and be able to hang with kind of their own, and enjoy each other, and ones that understand each other. It's good for them," she said.

Athlete Corey Wells agrees.

"We just have fun competing. I just love it so much," he said.

Fellow athlete Tyler Smith said, "It makes people with disabilities feel like everybody else. That's what I like coming out here to do stuff that most usually people think you couldn't do."

That's exactly why organizers work so hard each year to put on the spring games.

"The population has been told for a long time things that they can't do," director Jack Defazio said. "Seeing athletes compete is extremely rewarding. When you put them on an athletic field, whether it's a running event, or a throwing event, they're just as capable as anybody else."

He said about 300 students are volunteering, along with workers from Marathon Oil.

"It's just a tremendous tribute to the community that wants to get involved in a program such as this," Defazio said.

Just like the athletes pushing to cross the finish line, Dunfee encourages parents to push for what they feel is right and "Stand up. Voice your opinion."

She said sharing her story on social media helped make others aware of the error, and luckily, most of the students were able to participate.



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