SPECIAL OLYMPICS KICK OFF IN ESSEX
The Neighbor News - 5/10/2017
Belleville High School has the newest program competing in the Essex County Special Olympics.
A total of 340 students, from more than 20 public and private special education programs, turned out on a sunny and breezy Wednesday, May 3, in Brookdale Park.
The day's track and field events were just part of the competitions offered, according to Frank Petrucci, Special Olympics's area director for Essex County.
A bowling competition took place in January, followed by a swimming meet in March, Petrucci said.
The athletes, who have physical or mental disabilities, work hard and train all year for the competitions, noted the director. Winners, if they choose, advance to the New Jersey Special Olympics, scheduled for June 9, 10 and 11, at the College of New Jersey, he said.
The Essex County Special Olympics have occurred for more than 30 years.
Petrucci has been involved in the organization for 22 years.
The track and field competition marks its 14th year in Brookdale Park's pristine recreation complex.
The park borders Bloomfield and Montclair.
Dan Salvante, director of the Essex County Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department, emceed the opening ceremonies.
Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson and Bloomfield High School Principal Chris Jennings welcomed and encouraged the athletes.
Jennings also thanked the Bloomfield High School students who volunteered at the event.