Lorain County sees record number of athletes at 36th Special Oly - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Lorain County sees record number of athletes at 36th Special Olympics

Special Olympians walk on the track at Elyria High School. (Source: WOIO) Special Olympians walk on the track at Elyria High School. (Source: WOIO)
Family and friends watch the Special Olympians on Friday in Elyria. (Source: WOIO) Family and friends watch the Special Olympians on Friday in Elyria. (Source: WOIO)
ELYRIA, OH (WOIO) -

We talk about champions a lot here in Northeast Ohio, as our seemingly endless search to have one continues, but champions can be defined and celebrated in many ways, as they were Friday at Ely Stadium in Elyria. Thousands packed the bleachers to cheer on a record 521 athletes in the 36th annual Lorain County Special Olympics.

The Special Olympians' creed? "Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."

"It's one of my favorite days of the year," said Nicole Slivinski, a teacher at Westview Elementary school in Avon Lake. "We get to see the kids shine. We can see their smiles as much as our own smiles."

Students from 16 Lorain County school districts participated, competing in track, a softball throw, and jumping, with each competitor taking home a medal or a ribbon. But of course, it's about much more than that.

"It's absolutely amazing", said event coordinator Andrea Orr, who's been a part of the Lorain County Special Olympics for seven years. "They just have fun, you know. It's not about the ribbons or the awards. They just get to come out and be like every other kid. They get to run around the track and be with their friends."

And, their families, who annually pack the stands and make sure each Olympian basks in their glory.

"I got a chance to look at the families this year for the first time", Orr said, adding "they just love being able to wave to their kids...it's awesome."

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