Nothing but cheers filled the track stadium at A&M Consolidated. Family, friends, teachers, and volunteers lined the sidelines to support over 400 athletes.
Area 6 Special Olympic athletes from as close as Bryan and College Station to as far as Montgomery, took their spots at the starting line and competed. However, Jay Slovacek, with the Executive Committee said these games really are not about competition. It is all about the athletes.
"A lot of times you'll see someone run around the track and their eyes are all on them," Slovacek said. "They are just waving and smiling and everybody is clapping for them and those are the moments you really know why you came out."
Slovacek has been a part of the Special Olympics since 1997. He says the game offers families and athletes a chance to meet, catch up, and just have a great time with people who care and love children who just happen to have special needs.
It is something everybody involved looks forward to, like Taylor Hobson, 11, a returning athlete.
"Oh yes, I do with my classmates and my teachers," Hobson said.
Slovacek said the athletes are not the only ones who get hooked on the games--volunteers do too.
"You see a lot of people here repeat, once they come out they keep coming back, you see people like Dr. John Grounds," Slovacek said.
Dr. John Grounds is the Track Competition Director for the Area 6 Special Olympics. 17 years ago a co-worker asked Grounds to help her at a Special Olympics she was volunteering at.
"I said, 'Sure,' and I showed up and the next thing I know I was in charge of the track meet," Grounds said.
Every year Grounds travels from Houston to College Station because he and the athletes experience the same feeling.
"An extreme amount of satisfaction," Grounds said. "It's fun, the kids have fun, I have fun-- it's a great group of people to work with. There's nothing bad about it."
That satisfaction, Slovacek said, leads to strong friendship bonds that last long after the athletes cross the finish line.
"It's a relationship that lasts beyond just one day," Slovacek said.