Monday, April 27, 2015

U.S. Naval Academy Hosts Special Olympics

The U.S. Naval Academy hosted the annual Maryland Special Olympics competition on Ingram Track April 26.

Approximately 350 midshipmen volunteers were paired with athletes who competed in track and field events throughout the day.

Photo by MC2 Jonathan Correa

The event is a collaboration between the Naval Academy’s Midshipman Action Group, the Annapolis Jaycees and Maryland Special Olympics. Athletes earning qualifying times will then go on to the next level of competition at other venues statewide.

“This is really driven by the midshipmen,” said Jim Schmutz, president and CEO of Special Olympics Maryland. “It is unbelievable the support we get from the midshipmen. It is a great demonstration of their leadership and it makes us proud to be Americans that our future leaders are taking interest in our special athletes.”

Midshipmen volunteers provided support to the athletes ensuring they arrived to their races on time and ready to go.

 “I look forward to this every year, and it is awesome for me to see the athletes enjoying the day,” said Midshipman 2nd Class Derek Moore, USNA Special Olympics project leader. “The Naval Academy shows us how to be an officer and a leader,” said Moore. “The core of any good leader is a good person, and you can see that in someone with events like this.”

The event allowed midshipmen and their athletes to bond and enjoy the day’s activities.

Photo by MC2 Jonathan Correa

“I volunteered a lot in high school with the Special Olympic basketball tournament down in Richmond, Va., and the track and field events at the University of Richmond,” said Midshipman 4th Class Collin Rogers, USNA Special Olympics volunteer. “It is one of the biggest times of year for the athletes, and we get to see them get excited. It makes me happy that I am helping them reach their goals.”

"With a record number of Midshipmen supporting the USNA-hosted Special Olympics Track and Field Day, and, with great weather all day long, our Olympians and their families enjoyed a wonderful event again this year,” said Miriam Stanicic, Naval Academy community relations director. “We were all very honored when the Admiral Carter and Mrs. Carter came to support the event in the afternoon, and the Admiral quickly became a part of the awards ceremony and the festive cheers to follow."

The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for persons eight years of age and older with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community.

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