Hundreds of disabled athletes lit up with joy Friday night as the Nevada Special Olympics kicked off their summer state competition in Reno.
A high five means a lot to the 250 competitors with mental disabilities that are set to compete at the Nevada Special Olympics Summer Games in Reno.For Michael Labraque, it's truly something special.“A high five means to me that I’m giving all my heart out to the law enforcement who come out and take time to help us. They raise money for us so we can come out and compete,” said Labraque.
As part of the event's opening ceremony law enforcement form a Wall Of Honor to show respect to those who are going to compete in the games. The Law Enforcement Torch Run that kicks off the event also has special meaning. It helps raise funds for the competition, as well as inspire the athletes. “It represents passion for me. And inspires me to keep going,” said Special Olympics competitor Ciera Barlow.“I love to watch them perform. We are signing autographs, and high fiving and hugs. It’s really special,” said Sparks Police Officer Stephen Goodrum.
The Nevada Special Olympic Games consist of track and field, swimming, and bocce. “Over the 3 sports, there could be over 50 events going on,” said Harry Mong from Special Olympics Nevada.
The competition gives many of the competitors an opportunity they may not otherwise have had.“Some of them can't go into a recreational center and play basketball. Or they can’t swim on a team. We give them an outlet to show their skills,” said Mong.
The games give them the ability to compete, socialize and have little fun. “I enjoy meeting all these new athletes from around the country. Everyone is having a great time with us,” said Labraque.
If you want to cheer on the competitors, the games run from 7 in the morning to 5 in the evening at Reno High School and the Lombardi Rec Center on the Nevada campus.