Sunday, July 15 , 2018, 11:52 am | Fair 76º


Santa Barbara County Unites for Special Olympics Track and Field Competition

With a spirit of sportsmanship, local athletes run their own races but enthusiastically cheer on each other

Special Olympians race to the finish line Saturday at Pioneer Valley High School in Santa Maria. Click to view larger
Special Olympians race to the finish line Saturday at Pioneer Valley High School in Santa Maria. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

Dozens of Special Olympians from throughout Santa Barbara County competed in track and field events at Pioneer Valley High School in Santa Maria on Saturday.

From running events to long jumps and more, athletes began competing after a traditional opening ceremony, complete with torch lighting for the Spring Regional Games.

“It’s awesome to see all our athletes participate,” Special Olympics regional director Gina Carbajal said.

Trish Ballew sat on the field after competing in the standing long jump event, cheering on others and exchanging high fives.

She began competing at age 5 and now is 34.

Among those she watched was Joseph Womack, who enthusiastically supported his fellow athletes.

He put the same enthusiasm into his own competition.

“How do you like that, guys?” he asked after one exuberant running long jump.

This year’s competition included athletes from northern Santa Barbara County as well as those from the Santa Barbara region.

The annual track and field competition held in April is organized by the Santa Maria Recreation & Parks Department.

These are busy weeks for Special Olympians and their supporters. The Regional Aquatics Competition is May 9 at the Paul Nelson Aquatic Center in Santa Maria, and will feature 200 athletes from Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Ventura and Kern counties.

Also next month, the 17th annual Bull Canon Run to benefit the Special Olympics Torch Run is set for May 16.

In June, the Torch Run will travel through Santa Barbara County en route to the 2015 Summer Games in Long Beach.

And in July, the Special Olympics World Summer Games will take place in Los Angeles, with several local communities named host cities — including Goleta, Santa Barbara and Santa Maria. The 25-sport competition will be July 25 to Aug. 2.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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