Area One Special Olympics Visits PHS

Thursday, February 28, 2013
Members of the Piggott Mohawk Special Olympics team carry the banner into the PHS gym at Friday's basketball skills competition. This year's banner bearers are, from left: Jarrod Chronister, Ian Lawton, Tayden Meadows and Joseph Gates.

Over 300 athletes converged on the Piggott High School gym Friday, Feb. 22 for the annual Area One Special Olympics basketball competition. The athletes represented schools and organizations in the six counties served by Area One, which includes Clay, Greene, Randolph, Lawrence, Sharp and Fulton.

"We had athletes of all ages from Piggott, Walnut Ridge, Marmaduke, Greene County Tech, Paragould and Pocahontas schools," noted one of the local organizers, Erma Campbell. "We also had participants from Abilities Unlimited, Focus Inc. and the Doni Martin Center at Pocahontas."

The regional basketball skills competition is held each February at PHS, affording the Special Olympians a chance to perform before a crowd of appreciative fans. "I so appreciate the high school students, and how they support the athletes," Campbell noted. "They come out and sit in the bleachers all day and really cheer these athletes on, it's just great all the support they show."

Serving as the master of ceremonies for the day was local minister Bro. Kevin Murray, of Emmanuel Baptist Church of Piggott. Murray hosted the opening ceremonies, which included the Pledge of Allegiance, National Anthem, opening prayer and the Special Olympics Pledge. Then, throughout the competition he worked diligently to keep the crowd and participants entertained, informed and enthused. "Kevin did just a wonderful job," Campbell surmised.

Assisting with effort were members of the Piggott High School Beta Club, who operated the concession stand and provided manpower for the various competitions. Members of the Spoke-N-Word chapter of the Christian Motorcyclist Association have also become regulars at the annual competition, helping welcome the athletes during the opening march and serving as volunteers.

"This year's event was just wonderful, it's their day and that's what it's all about," Campbell added. "All the other kids have a chance to compete in sports, and some of these kids can too, but this is their special day. And it's so good for them to be able to compete and hear the crowd cheer them on--it's such a special day."

The next Area One competition for regional Special Olympians will be the annual track and field meet set for April at Greene County Tech in Paragould.

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