AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – A group of 26 local athletes spent the weekend in Columbus competing in the 47th Special Olympics Summer Games. They returned home Sunday.
“It was awesome, we wanted to cry, it was awesome,” said Lori Demarinis, whose daughter competed in the Special Olympics. “They deserve it, they had a great time and they fought real hard.”
Several groups were at the Leonard Kurtz School in Austintown to welcome home the athletes, including the Austintown Police Department.
“You couldn’t hear yourself talk on the bus, as soon as they saw the sirens from the Austintown police,” said David Grossman, chairman and local coordinator of the Mahoning County Developmental Disabilities Special Olympics. “It was just fantastic, they really got excited and this really meant something to them.”
The athletes left Friday morning and traveled to the Special Olympics at The Ohio State University.
“They worked hard for this, and I just think they should have a heroes’ welcome because they’re unsung heroes as far as I’m concerned. These kids work so hard,” said Sandee Timmerman of Austintown.
They competed against 3,000 athletes from across the state in volleyball and track.
“I did the 2 kilometer walk, which is 10 times around the track, and I got first at that,” said Elizabeth Opincarne, who competed in the Special Olympics.
The Mahoning County DD Special Olympics group has competed in the Special Olympics for more than 12 years
“We got to celebrate victories and all of our hard work we put in all season, the athletes went out and did their very best and came home with the gold,” Grossman said.
This event helps more than 23,000 adults and children statewide each year.
“It means a lot, it really does for these kids to have this and have this honor, I can’t express how good it feels,” Demarinis said.
“The community support we get is unmatched in my opinion. We got such a great group of supporters that just back us in everything we do and celebrate our victories with us,” Grossman said.