Greenville High School’s Jaylon Hamilton races to the finish line during the 100-yard dash during the Butler County Special Olympics on Friday at Tiger Stadium. (Advocate Staff/Andy Brown)
Greenville High School’s Jaylon Hamilton races to the finish line during the 100-yard dash during the Butler County Special Olympics on Friday at Tiger Stadium. (Advocate Staff/Andy Brown)

Archived Story

Special Olympics can be life changing

Published 3:46pm Friday, April 26, 2013

For Richard Kelly, the Butler County Special Olympics is more than just fun and games.

It’s an opportunity to impact the lives of a special group of children.

In many ways, Kelly views the annual event as a ministry to his students and the community as a whole.

“This is a huge deal,” said Kelly, event chairman and Greenville High School special education teacher. “It can be a life-changing opportunity for these students.”

Kelly, who spoke to the Rotary Club of Greenville on Thursday, said the Special Olympics helps students develop self-confidence and build a winning attitude.

He said it’s also an opportunity for local businesses, churches and individuals to minster to the students by volunteering their time to assist with the staging of the games or by making a financial donation.

Kelly, who coaches football, basketball and baseball at GHS, said he will forever be grateful to Eunice Kennedy Shriver for her role in creating the games.

The Special Olympics began in the early 1960s, when Shriver saw how unjustly and unfairly people with intellectual disabilities were treated. She decided to take action.

Soon, her vision began to take shape, as she held a summer day camp for young people with intellectual disabilities. The goal was to learn what these children could do in sports and other activities — and not dwell on what they could not do. This vision eventually grew into the Special Olympics.

“These kids are awesome,” Kelly said. “They don’t always get the attention or the opportunity that other kids get, and that’s why I think that the Special Olympics is so important. It’s a chance for us to invest in these kids.”

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