There were a lot of beautiful little moments during Special Olympics Oregon’s State Summer Games on Sunday.
Moments like bocce players giving their opponents high fives to congratulate good throws as they played on a sunny field at Oregon State University. Or like those same players chatting amiably before the match but then applying laser-like focus when it was their turn to throw.
Or over at the track and field competition at Corvallis High School, where the crowd cheered generously for everyone but treated the assisted walking racers, who competed using canes and walkers, to particularly enthusiastic applause.
Or the triumphant smiles of athletes like Corvallis’ John Kaser as he received his fourth-place ribbon after running an 800 meter race.
Kaser said he’s participated in Special Olympics for a long time, and his favorite sport is track and field, in part because there are so many different things he gets to do. But running is a particular favorite, he said.
“I love track and field and I’m a pretty fast runner,” he said.
He said running can be hard, but he tries to focus on moving forward.
“Don’t look back,” he said.
Kaser added that he likes making new friends and meeting new people through Special Olympics.
Christie Clark, a 42-year-old from Portland, also competed in track events Sunday. She said she’d been competing in Special Olympics since she was 5.
“It gives me a good outlet, and it gives me someplace to come that is safe and positive and everyone can be a family,” she said.
Dale Miner, of Corvallis, lit the torch at Saturday’s Games Ceremonies. He said Sunday between bocce matches that he’s participated in Special Olympics since 1972. In that time he’s done track and field, basketball and softball.
“I’ve almost done them all,” he said.
Why has he participated in Special Olympics so long?
“I like it. It’s fun. Entertainment. Make new friends,” he said.
Chad Carter, Special Olympics Oregon’s communications and marketing director, said the weekend had gone so well that it had reaffirmed the organization’s decision to move the games to Corvallis for this and future years. Not only have all the venues operated smoothly, the community has turned out to watch, he said.
“As far as we are concerned, this has been an overwhelming, incredible experience,” he said. “We feel like Corvallis and especially OSU have opened their arms to us."