MOUNT VERNON — It was the best performance ever for the Knox County team.
The local Special Olympics athetes racked up nearly 50 medals, including 20 golds, at the 2012 Summer Games of the Ohio Special Olympics held in Columbus this past weekend.
“We did really well,” said Knox County Special Olympics team organizer Linda Kerr. “It’s well worth the time we put in, to see their faces when they win their medals. Even if they just get a ribbon, it’s wonderful to see how excited they get and how thrilled they are.”
The entire team representing Knox County marched along with teams from all over Ohio on the track at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium to touch off the three-day sports festival.
“We all walked in the ceremony,” said Kerr. “It was really nice. We had some new athletes and they were all thrilled about being in the parade and seeing everything that was going on — it was amazing.”
The weeks of tireless work by the coaches and volunteers got rewarded by the looks on the faces of the athletes, who got a taste of achievement.
“I’m just thrilled for the athletes because it gives them something to look forward to,” said Kerr. “I am very pleased that they have something to do in Knox County and that everyone who wants to do it, can. It’s just amazing to see them, when they start out at the beginning and where they end up. If they can’t throw very far, by the end of the season, they are really doing a great job. If they can’t run very well, then, after a few months, they are running faster or working a little harder. It’s amazing to see the progress — even in a short amount of time.”
The job of organizing the athletes is growing by leaps and bounds, along with the success of the team. Kerr decides which athletes perform in which events.
In the Special Olympics, participation and fun are the focus for coaches and participant alike, more than the medals.
“It was fun,” said Jessica Bell, a silver medalist in the 100-meter run. “I like the running and the relays. I want to bring some more friends next year.”
Kerr’s son, 24-year-old Geremy Kerr, took the gold in the softball throw and a bronze in the 100-meter walk.
“I have been going there about four years,” said the younger Kerr. “It is awesome. My favorite part is the softball throw.”
For Geremy, the fun of the games is matched by the pride he feels in being a gold medal athlete.
“I’m definitely going to do this again next year,” said Geremy. “(The Special Olympics) have done a tremendous job this year.”