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Wet, cold weather cancels some Special Olympics events on Saturday

Daily News - 5/7/2017

In three years, Lucy Celsor, 11, of Scottsville has progressed from the 10-meter walk to the 25-meter distance, her dad Brian said Saturday at the Area 5 Special Olympics Spring Games in Bowling Green.

Born with cerebral palsy but no lack of determination, Lucy negotiated the 25-meter walk at Bowling Green High School'sEl Donaldson Stadium while raindrops hit her bright blue crutches, just the second athlete to toe up the starting line at the track.

She was one of 199 athletes from 17 county and city delegations participating. A steady rain and cold temperatures washed out some of Saturday's events by 11 a.m. and the activities were canceled for the day.

However, before that, Lucy had her shining moment before the partially filled stands at the stadium, people standing and cheering while holding umbrellas.

As she crossed the finish line, Brian Celsor gave Lucy a big hug. Volunteers, some of the 200 attending, huddled under hoodies and slickers, their smiles and applause present at the finish line. They know every Special Olympics athlete is a winner ? even in the rain.

"It's her best ever," Brian Celsor said later in the morning of his daughter, a member of the Allen County Intermediate Center team. "She does physical therapy every week."

Celsor said sometimes the biggest obstacle to an athlete training for the Special Olympics is getting used to the starter's gun firing.

"We make strides every day. It's a constant learning curve," he said.

Michael Kirk of the Bowling Green Independent School District team also had to learn to overcome the starting gun firing when he runs events. His mother, Brenda, who said Michael has been attending Special Olympics since 2009, said Michael is very sensitive to loud noises. Margie Clevenger, one of the coaches for the BGISD team, recalled on Saturday about Michael's first time running after a starter gun went off.

"I cried and his parents got to see him run for the first time," Clevenger said. A little nudge at the starting line got him going once the gun went off, she said.

"I love these kids. They have taught me more than I have taught them," said the veteran of 15 years of Special Olympics coaching.

"It is still all about the athletes," Clevenger said.

Holly Vincent, Bowling Green Parks and Recreation special populations coordinator and Area 5 competition manager, said Friday's and Saturday's rain showers caused organizers to make adjustments. She said early Saturday if the rain persisted or thunder and lightning occurred, the event would be stopped. "If we cancel, they all go to state because we can't control the weather," Vincent said.

"We had to take everything that we planned and flip-flop the entire schedule," Vincent said. The activities slated for the football field were moved to firmer footing on the tennis courts. Wheelchairs don't do well in wet and muddy grass.

Vincent said she runs the Special Olympics event because she likes to focus on what people can do and not what they can't do.

Paul Haman, 45, a Special Olympics athlete from Bowling Green who runs the 1,500 meters "always with a smile," according to Vincent, said he was setting up tents Friday at the high school. He said he likes to run because it's fun. Haman works with the City of Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department and "he's always the first one to show up and the last one to leave," Vincent said.

Steve Lennon, Russellville team assistant coach, had two sons at the Special Olympics, Randy and Kelly. Randy has become the right-hand man for Russellville team coach Jenn Siebold, who has coached Special Olympics for 18 years.

"Randy volunteers a good 20 hours a week at the rec center," Siebold said. "He stuffed 3,700 Easter eggs over four months for me. He knows everybody's schedule. He could lock down the park," she said.

Melissa Whitney, 37, of Adolphus, was a team of one at the Special Olympics.

Her mother, Linda, said she's been bringing Melissa to the Special Olympics for 15 years.

"It is the same loving kind of people who are always here," Linda Whitney said. "It brings out companionship, fellowship and some good competition."


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