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Special Olympics and Harley Riders – A Perfect Match

Written by  February 29, 2004

Have you ever seen the faces of Special Olympics athletes when a group of Harley riders arrive? I have and it is a sight to behold. For the past six years, the Greater Kansas City H.O.G. Chapter has worked the 100 yard dash at the annual KC Metro Area Track and Field competition. I began volunteering at many Special Olympics events over 20 years ago and these athletes pour their hearts and souls into winning. Having the Harleys there is just icing on the cake. The Athlete Oath is 'Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.'

If you’re not familiar with Special Olympics, it is a year-round program of sports training, education and athletic competition for children and adults with mental retardation. Their mission is to provide 19 different Olympic-type sports, giving them opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community. More than 13,000 athletes and 1,200 coaches participate in 114 competitions statewide. Their goal is for all persons with mental retardation to have the chance to become useful and productive citizens who are accepted and respected.

To be eligible to participate, you must be at least eight years old and identified by an agency or professional as having one of the following conditions: mental retardation, cognitive delays as measured by formal assessment, or significant learning or vocational problems due to cognitive delay that require or have required specially-designed instruction.

The benefits of participation include improved motor skills, greater self-confidence, a more positive self-image, friendships, and increased family support. Athletes carry these benefits with them into their daily lives at home, in the classroom, on the job, and in the community. Families who participate become stronger as they learn a greater appreciation of their athlete’s talents. Community volunteers find out what good friends the athletes can be and everyone learns more about the capabilities of people with mental retardation. Just ask anyone who has worked an event and they will tell you there is nothing like the feeling you get from just being around them, especially when they accept their awards. Special Olympics believes that competition among those of equal abilities is the best way to test athletes' skills, measure their progress, and inspire them to grow. The Spirit of Special Olympics transcends boundaries of geography, nationality, political philosophy, gender, age, race, and religion.

This year’s KC Metro Area Special Olympics Track and Field competition will be held at Lee’s Summit High School on Saturday, April 17. There will be over 450 athletes at this event, the largest event of the year! There are several different volunteer jobs available, so if you would like to volunteer, call or e-mail Dawn Jones at 913-789-0332 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Story by Margaret Liggett