Keesler Hosts Special Olympics - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

05/10/03

Keesler Hosts Special Olympics

There's a new breed of warrior on the fields of Keesler Air Force base, and they are Special Olympians.

"The athletes are competing in nine different sports, and of course they all want that gold medal, but the thing about Special Olympics athletes, they're just happy to be here," said Helen Parish with the Mississippi Special Olympics.

More than a thousand special Olympians from across the state are competing in events like volleyball and the hundred yard dash.

They may not be shattering world records, but according to one mother, that's not what's important.

Johnnie Kelso said, "It is not, definitely not, about winning. In fact, at our area games, he won a blue ribbon, but he wanted a red one, so we exchanged it for him."

Brandi Graffree is competing in the events for the second year in a row. She's pounding more than just the pavement--she hopes to stomp out stereotypes about people who have learning disabilities or who are mentally retarded.

"It helps people to understand that they're not slow...that they can do the same thing that everyone else can do, if they just put their time to it," said Brandi.

Mississippi's Special Olympics have been held at the Keesler Air Force Base for nearly two decades, and each year, everyone walks away a winner.

Toni Miles

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