The Special Olympics Track and Field Meet took place Saturday at Thunderbolt Middle School. Supporters gathered to cheer on Lake Havasu City and Kingman Special Olympics athletes while they competed for the top tier spot.
Don Bergen currently coaches shot put, bocce ball, and basketball skills. Don and his wife, Chris, created Special Olympics in Lake Havasu City 27 years ago. They’ve watched the organization evolve over the years and are proud of what it’s become.
“It’s like one big family to us,” he said.
“It’s much more than just their winnings… it’s their chance to participate in something great and it helps them so much psychologically,” he said.
Don Burgen explained how the Special Olympics sports help the participants socialize with each other and the community. He said it’s a great way for the special needs athletes to develop friendships and build confidence.
Many of the participants in Special Olympics are also involved in the New Horizons program, a local organization serving disabled adults since 1973. Spending time at both New Horizons and Special Olympics helps create bonds that enrich their lives.
Roxi Harshman, a first-place winner during the competition’s first few events, said her team is excited to get to the state championship event in May. She said her and her team have been practicing twice a day and will increase their practice time before heading to the ultimate State event, where they plan to bring home the first-place title.
Whistles and shouts filled the bleachers at Thunderbolt while the athletes battled it out, cheered each other on, and celebrated their victories.