ELYRIA — About 775 children walked around the track at Ely Stadium on Friday to kick off their day to be recognized and participate in track and field competitions.
Elyria Schools hosted the Lorain County Special Olympics for the first time at the new stadium, Mercy Health Field at Ely Stadium. Children from 17 school districts competed in multiple events, including races, ball tossing and the long jump.
Students who won ribbons proudly posed for pictures afterward. To help with the downtime, other students colored pictures or played with bubbles.
A girl who won the motorized race threw her hand in the air and waved in victory to the crowd gathered on the bleachers and sidelines. At the ball toss, volunteers and teachers coached a group of boys on how to throw the ball.
Andrea Orr, who has been director of the event for seven years, said it was awesome to see everyone together to celebrate students with special needs.
“This is what everything is for,” Orr said. “This is what makes everything worth it. They get to compete like any other typical kid. They get to have fun.”
Orr said the students love the attention they get from the cameras and the parade around the track.
The schools who participated were all in Lorain County, and Vermilion Schools joined the festivities this year for the first time.
Orr said the new stadium, which opened in August, was much better suited to hold the entire event together. She said the stadium, including the bathrooms and seating, is more accessible to people with disabilities.
“It went so smoothly this morning, I thought there was something wrong. Our teams showed up; the grounds crew is phenomenal. It was just absolutely wonderful.”
There were close to 120 students younger than 8 participating in the Special Olympics, so a section was devised to keep them busy and occupied while waiting for their events. Those events included making edible medals and an obstacle course.