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In the running

Disabled athletes take to the track and field to show their skills in a variety of events.

May 02, 2010|By Veronica Rocha

Nearly 150 athletes with disabilities competed for medals Saturday at the second annual Crescenta Valley Committed to Athletic Needs’ Special Olympics.

Athletes from Glendale, La Crescenta, Burbank and the Santa Clarita Valley descended on Crescenta Valley High School’s Susan Osborne field to show off their skills in Bocce ball, running, jumping and walking.

“Let the games begin,” announced Laura Mayo, the Tri-Valley Special Olympics organization’s regional director.

Soon after Mayo initiated the Tri-Valley Athletics and Track meet, athletes broke off into groups and began competing.

Glendale athlete Joseph Tupas, 21, stretched his legs and arms in preparation for the softball toss.

The longtime athlete, who conducted the Pledge of Allegiance for the event, practiced 20 hours for the competition.

Tupas said he was confident about his chances of doing well in the 50-meter, 4x100 relay and 100-meter runs.

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This year’s Tri Valley Special Olympics games in La Crescenta was the first to include an Olympics Village and Bocce ball tournament.

About 300 people volunteered to help organize the event and provide support to the athletes and their families, Mayo said.

“We could not run such a great event without all of the volunteers,” she said.

The event’s organizer, Grace Chase, said the competition kicked off in the Crescenta Valley last year because disabled athletes have few opportunities to compete there.

Crescenta Valley’s Committed to Athletic Needs, a nonprofit group dedicated to supporting sports, then partnered with the Tri-Valley Special Olympics to create the competition for the athletes, she said.

“We have a lot of athletes who go to [Crescenta Valley High School], who have special needs, that don’t necessarily compete in this school, so we thought we would give them an opportunity to do that through these games.”

Saturday’s games served as a warmup for athletes participating in the larger Special Olympics Southern California competition, which will be in June at Cal State Long Beach.

The Tri-Valley Special Olympics organization serves athletes from the San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita Valley, Glendale and Burbank. The organization provides training facilities, and supplies equipment, uniforms and medals to 350 athletes between the ages 18 and 75.

The Tri-Valley organization offers year-round training and competition in aquatics, track and field, basketball, Bocce ball, golf, tennis, softball and soccer.

Chatsworth resident Sheryl Diamond, 40, and her roommate participated in walking, softball toss and long jump.

“I like the Olympics because it’s fun,” she said.

Athletes who finished in the top three in their events received gold, silver and bronze medals. All other athletes received medals for participating in the competition.


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