Updated 05/17/2012 06:11 PM
Special Olympians let loose with track and field event
Running, jumping, hitting, dancing and having a good time. That was the scene as Special Olympians from 12 districts and Onondaga and Oswego counties got together for a track and field event at Cicero North-Syracuse High School Thursday. Our Kat De Maria takes us there.
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CICERO, N.Y.--It's impossible not to smile when this is your day: 700 special education students from Onondaga and Oswego counties letting loose to kick off some track and field fun.
"The parade is a beautiful thing," said Special Olympics Committee Chair Fina Santangelo.
The annual event for kids from five to 21 at Cicero-North Syracuse High School is a highlight for athletes each spring.
"She's been talking about it for weeks. That's all she ever talks about. When she gets home, she's like, 'Yay, Special Olympics are coming!'" said the sister of Layla Sherwood, an olympian from North Syracuse.
Dozens of volunteers kept the energy and momentum going as they got the day's events underway.
"I just did the race,” said John Lorraine, of Fayetteville-Manlius.
How did John do?
"Very well!" He said.
"It's so good to see the kids out having a great time, participating and all the people who come out to cheer them on," said John's mom, Janet Lorraine.
While John awaited his next race, he and mom talked about the important stuff: What's for lunch.
"I'll have an apple," John said.
"An apple. Okay," Janet Lorraine said.
Meanwhile, heats continued in a number of different distances.
"First place, 50 meters," said Zachary Heaney of Liverpool.
"These shoes help me and nobody can get me in this race!" said Joe Talamo, also of Liverpool.
Word on the street is Joe gets his mic skills from his gym teacher, Bob Zenker. But in all seriousness...
"Today is wonderful because the kids feel a sense of achievement and accomplishment and they get the cheering of the crowd and the support of the community, just like any normal kid wants," Zenker said.
Running, jumping and throwing, with big smiles all around.
This year's event is dedicated to Taylor Fleming, a Cicero-North Syracuse junior and Special Olympics volunteer who died in a car crash in December.