Special Olympics athletes compete at USM Gulf Park - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Special Olympics athletes compete at USM Gulf Park

Events included soccer, softball, horseshoes, and croquet. (Photo source: WLOX) Events included soccer, softball, horseshoes, and croquet. (Photo source: WLOX)
LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) -

Nearly 100 athletes convened on USM’s Gulf Park campus to participate in the Special Olympics Summer Games on Saturday. Events included soccer, softball, horseshoes, and croquet.

A majority of the athletes came from Brandi's Hope in Picayune. It’s an organization that houses and provides support for people with disabilities.

"It's just a place where we support persons and try to let them be independent, and we just assist them on things that they need to be assisted with," said Justin Quinn, who volunteers at Brandi’s Hope. "They really don't have a lot to do, and they don't have a lot of people that's willing to take care of them. A lot of these people don't have families, and we're just here to support them and be their family members."

A lot of that support also comes from the athletes themselves, who view each other as more than just teammates.

"They're my best friends. They all enjoy having me with them, and we do good. We help each other in different sports, and I cheer them on, and they cheer me on," said Robbie Smith, of Picayune. 

What they all have in common more than anything is a love of sports. 

"I threw the ball, I ran, ran fast as I could, and I'm enjoying myself out here in the hot sun on the beach," said Louise Johnson. 

The games served as a precursor to the Special Olympics of Mississippi's Fall Games in October at Camp Shelby. 

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