By ANDY GOODELL
The Oskaloosa Herald
This community cares.
Hundreds of volunteers helped make the Special Olympics Iowa Southeast Area Spring Games possible at the Penn Activities Center Saturday.
Karen Hafner, who was just one of the event organizers, said around 350 volunteers helped the games run smoothly. Volunteers included Penn students, those from local businesses and other area residents. Now that the event is in its fourth year at the PAC, many volunteers have lent their time to the games in years past, noted Hafner.
Not only was Saturday’s event at the PAC good for the athletes participating, it was also good for the volunteers, added Hafner.
“They usually leave feeling pretty good about themselves because you learn a lot about yourself,” said Hafner. “This community is great. They always come through.”
Around 250 athletes of all ages participated at the PAC on Saturday. Teams from various Iowa communities including Oskaloosa, Ottumwa, Fairfield, Burlington and Sigourney took part in various events such as the softball toss, shotput, standing long jump, as well as running events.
These teams ranged greatly in size. Hafner said some had as many as 40 while others had two.
Hafner expressed appreciation for having the event at the PAC.
“It’s very nice because this facility is awesome,” she said. “For these kids, this is perfect. The facility is what makes it for us.”
A.J. Kool and his daughter, Aubree, were among those at Saturday’s Special Olympics Iowa Southeast Area Spring Games. Aubree even had the chance to be one of the torch carriers during the opening ceremonies.
“She did a great job,” said A.J.
A.J. also pointed out the importance of the approach to competition taken at the Special Olympics Iowa event, which focuses on the athletes trying their best.
“That’s great in every part of life,” said A.J. “So, I think it’s good for all these kids to get out and be active and try their best.”
Herald City Editor Andy Goodell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.