Student Olympians from across Dawson County were going for gold last week as they sprinted, tossed and bowled in some very special games held at Lumpkin County High School.
Wyatt Corn, a kindergartner at Riverview Elementary, won two first place ribbons and couldn't stop smiling at his accomplishment.
"I know that Wyatt was really excited to get his two first place prizes," said Kris Corn, as she cuddled her 7-year-old son tight. "It helps to build his self-esteem, but not only that, he gets to meet other children that are similar to him and build comradery with them."
Through a partnership with the Lumpkin County School System, nearly 70 Dawson students, from kindergarten through 12th grade, traveled to Dahlonega April 13 for the annual Special Olympics events.
"Having a child with special needs is difficult sometimes for parents because you wonder if they're going to be able to participate in such things where they get to do physical activities," Corn said. "To have programs like this, especially across counties, I think it's really neat to be able to get them in the same spirit other children are involved at school."
Hershel Bennett, director of Dawson County School's Exceptional Children's program, said events like Special Olympics are essential for the vitality of the students.
"It's huge for our kids to get to come and participate. It lets them participate in sports, whereas some of them do not get to participate in recreational school level teams, so it lets them get out and have an enjoyable day outside of the classroom and build some self-esteem skills," he said.
Corn said watching the children have fun is just as therapeutic for the parents.
"The typical field days at school, they don't always get to participate. Generally, if they do get to participate, they don't always do very well because the other kids are a little more able than them," she said. "For them to go into a special environment like this and participate with kids with the same nature is very rewarding."
Next year's games will be held locally and Lumpkin County students will be invited to join in on the fun.
"We want to thank Lumpkin County. They did a great job," said Chess Hamby, a special needs teacher at Riverview Elementary.
Hamby also thanked the Dawsonville Civitan Club for providing the team with T-shirts and lunch.