MS Special Olympics wrap up in Biloxi

MS Special Olympics wrap up in Biloxi
Special Olympics coach, Ben Harris, chats with some of his athletes after the competitions. (Image Source: WLOX News)
Special Olympics coach, Ben Harris, chats with some of his athletes after the competitions. (Image Source: WLOX News)
A couple of the wheelchair athletes prepare to accept their awards. (Image Source: WLOX News)
A couple of the wheelchair athletes prepare to accept their awards. (Image Source: WLOX News)

BILOXI, MS (WLOX)

The Preakness wasn't the only big weekend competition; The Mississippi Special Olympics Summer Games wrapped up in Biloxi on Saturday.

Nearly 700 athletes showed off their skills in various competitions, despite dealing with warm weather. The annual Special Olympic games are something the athletes work hard for all year long.

"I feel happy," said Grover Fairley, Special Olympics athlete from Hattiesburg.   

Held at Keesler Air Force Base, the athletes came from all over the state of Mississippi to compete against other men and women with specials needs. Coaches, and sometimes fan clubs, were in tow.

"It's feeling that I can't even explain. This is my first time ever coaching this and they made it so easy to even. I just feel great. It's phenomenal to have athletes like this," said coach Aaron Roy.

The games started early in the day, but by early afternoon, South Mississippi heat forced the athletes, coaches and sponsors indoors to continue the fun.

"Once we got past about 1 or 2 o'clock, it started going downhill. They were like 'Yea, I'm getting tired," said coach Ben Parrish.

The Parrish brothers from North Mississippi have been coaches in the games for almost a decade. Their mom is a special education teacher, so spending time with special needs students comes natural. An added plus - the athletes make it worth their while.

"I get pretty competitive. I have guys that will not take silver medals, they want to win gold. They want to be number one," said Jacob Parrish.

The athletes get to stay on base with airmen for the nights they're in town. The weekend isn't all about competition; it's about camaraderie, sportsmanship and having fun.

"You get to meet new people, have fun with them, and everything. They really make me feel at home when I come down here," said Cowboy Johnny, special Olympics athlete.

The festivities ended Saturday night with a dance at Olympic Village.

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