ABILENE, Texas - Hardin-Simmons University and its Student-Athlete Advisory Committee hosted its annual Special Olympics Field Day as part of the national celebration of Division III Week.
Approximately 175 HSU student-athletes participated with the 93 Special Olympians in a day of fun and track activities in preparation for the Special Olympic district meet in two weeks at Abilene Christian University. The event was held at the HSU track facility with winds ranging from 30-40 MPH and temperatures nearing 90 degrees.
"The track meet has many purposes," said HSU SAAC advisor Chad Grubbs. "Division III and Special Olympics have a national affiliation and when we approached our local Special Olympics three years ago they were enthusiastic about our student-athletes getting involved."
"The Special Olympians get a practice meet before the district meet and our student-athletes get to interact with the Special Olympians and I am not sure who gets more out of the interaction, all of the kids I talk to really like participating in the this event."
HSU had representatives from all of its teams help run all of the events, which included running events, javelin, shot put, tennis ball and softball throws, standing long jump and running long jump.
"I got the chance to meet someone today that couldn't walk, but that didn't affect his attitude or his belief in God," said HSU basketball player Justin Jones. "I definitely learned a lesson, that even though I can walk and play basketball or whatever that I need to be thankful for those things we take for granted and I need to always be playing for God first. This was just a fun day for us out there, we definitely learned a lot."
This is the third year that HSU and the Special Olympics have teamed up, with rain canceling last year's event. Chick-fil-A helped sponsor the event and lunches were served. HSU also used money from the NCAA Division III Identity Initiative to purchase gifts for the Special Olympians and the HSU student-athletes working the event.
"I didn't hear one of the Special Olympians complain about the weather, the wind or their circumstance," said Grubbs. "They were just happy to be out competing and enjoying life. I think many of our kids learned real-life lessons from the Special Olympians."
Information for this story provided by HSU Athletics.