The Division 8 competition for Special Olympics of Wisconsin was held for the first time at Muskego High School on Saturday.
Rich Raney, head track coach for the women's team at MHS said students have volunteered for the event in past years, when it was held at Nicolet High School, but said he was thrilled to have it come to his 'home field' and hoped it would be the start of a long run.
"Our athletes have helped in the past, and we'd love this to be the start of a great partnership with Special Olympics," Raney said. "We have more than 100 student volunteers here, and it's a great experience for them as well."
Sidny Harker, Regional Director of Sports for Special Olympics Wisconsin, said "there are more than 570 athletes participating in more than 25 track and field events, which is about 40 more than last year. Kids from the age of 8 and up to adults in their 40s can all compete, and are organized by their abilities."
Students from MHS who helped out as timers and guides said the day leaves an impression on them.
"It's great to see these athletes having so much fun, and always staying so positive," said Josie Schilz, who was helping out in her third Special Olympics.
Lauren Kudronowicz, in her first year, said, "It really makes you look at life differently, and not to take things for granted. Win or lose, everyone maintains such a positive attitude."
While the start of the event didn't look promising weather-wise, it ended up to provide perfect conditions for runners, and coaches said the venue was a great one for this growing event.
"We really have room here, great parking, and it's been so organized," said one coach. "We also feel like we have been welcomed here."
More than 30 delegations organized from community-based groups, schools and parent-run organizations entered into competition for District 8, which includes southeastern Wisconsin from Mequon to Waukesha County. Top-three placers will go on to compete at UW-Stevens Point on June 8 and 9 for the state competition.