Special Olympics Md. Celebrates 25 Years of Fall Sports Festival

Special Olympics Md. Celebrates 25 Years of Fall Sports Festival

Hundreds of athletes from across the state are in Frederick County, Maryland competing, and as WHAG’s Shayna Halper tells us, it’s not only about the competition at this event.
FREDERICK COUNTY, Md. - The Maryland Special Olympics Fall Sports Festival is in its 25th year, and nearly 400 athletes from across the state gathered in Emmitsburg for the event.

“Sports is the venue. Sports is the starting line, but really what were working for is equality, inclusion both on the field and off the field,” says Sam Hodapp, Regional Director for Special Olympics Maryland.

Hundreds of volunteers, including many students from Mount St. Mary’s University were out on campus participating.

“It's a great day because we've worked hard to set it up, and the athletes have worked extremely hard to train for these events and so it gives an opportunity to show their skill set, talent, hard work and dedication,” says Kelvin Ventura, a Senior at Mt. St. Mary’s University.

Some of Saturday’s events included long distance running and flag football. Candi Blessing of Washington County, placed first in her division Saturday. She will be heading to the Special Olympics 2014 USA games this summer in New Jersey.

“It's the first time I picked to go to it. I heard it’s so fun to go to it. I did pretty well at it today I came in first,” says Candi Blessing, a Long Distance from Smithsburg, Md.

Blessing tells us competing in the events takes a lot of practice that’s well worth the fun. Organizers say while it’s a day of fun and competition, it’s really so much more than that.

“Looking at really true equality is the goal of Special Olympics and this is just how we approach it,” says Hodapp.

There are nearly 3.5 million Special Olympics Athletes worldwide.

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