Special Olympics gears up for Alabaster event

The Shelby County Special Olympics will be held April 15 at Thompson’s Larry Simmons Stadium, and it is expected to draw more than 250 special-needs athletes to the area.

The Alabaster Parks and Recreation Department will partner with the Shelby County Special Olympics for the event, which begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m.

The event will include athletes ranging from 8-21 years old, and they will compete in 10 track events and five field events.

There will also be inflatables and face-painting for the kids.

“This is our most important event of the year,” said Shelby County Special Olympics co-coordinator Valinda Pate.

Pate said the event is particularly special because it allows and encourages everyone to participate.

“This event serves all of our population,” Pate said. “Everybody gets to be involved this day.”

Alabaster Parks and Recreation Director Ricky Nance said it is a pleasure for the department to have the opportunity to be involved, and it also helps build relationships with the schools and the therapeutic recreation program.

“We just like to be involved with the community as much as possible, especially with the schools,” Nance said. “We wanted to get involved and have programs with our special-needs kids.”

Nance also said the spirit of competition in the Special Olympics is something everyone should see and emulate.

“One of the main things I like about working with the Special Olympics is those kids give it 100 percent,” Nance said. “They compete as hard as they can, they have smiles on their faces and they are all winners to me.”