State Special Olympics draws 1,400 athletes

? The rain falling Saturday on Cessna Stadium wasn’t enough to dampen the moods of the roughly 1,400 athletes gathered from all over Kansas to compete in the state’s Special Olympics.

Brandi Bruce gave her mom a high five after her leap in the standing long jump, not concerned that six other people finished ahead of her on this day.

She had done her best, and that was all that anyone expected.

“It’s quite different from any other sporting event,” said Chris Whitley, Brandi’s mom. “It’s not like a competition; it’s like all for one and one for all.”

Indeed, parents and friends of the competitors applauded the efforts of every participant, not just their favorites.

“There’s a lot of lessons that you can learn from this,” Whitley said.

Special Olympics began in 1968 when Eunice Kennedy Shriver organized the First International Special Olympics games at Soldier Field in Chicago. The Kansas Special Olympics were launched two years later.

This year’s event, which began Friday, runs through today. The bulk of today consists of track and field events.