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Celebration, Struggle at the Special Olympics
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
05:36AM / Thursday, May 11, 2023
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Athletes threw softballs for distance, raced on the track and competed in the long jump at the annual Special Olympics event held at Mounument Mountain on Wednesday.

Berkshire County law enforcement officers lead the annual parade of banners during Wednesday's opening ceremony.

Some athletes got a helping hand from their coaches as they competed at the Berkshire County Special Olympics.

The games were dedicated to longtime volunteer Nancy Forget. 
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — For the principal of W.E.B. Du Bois Regional Middle School, the Berkshire County Special Olympics held each spring at neighboring Monument Mountain Regional High School complement his school's mission.
"What I really love about the Special Olympics is what I also love about W.E.B. Du Bois, the namesake of our middle school," Ben Doren said during Wednesday morning's opening ceremonies.
"W.E.B. Du Bois saw a vision, over a hundred years ago, of people together, working hard, struggling through adversity but also struggling to build a better community for the future."
Echoing the Special Olympics athlete oath, "Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt," both Doren and Monument Mountain Principal Kristina Farina praised the athletes and their supporters for the brave work of building a more inclusive world.
And, as a bonus, they got to have some fun doing it.
Smiles and hugs were plentiful on Wednesday as hundreds of athletes from across the county ran, threw and jumped for personal bests, for medals and for the satisfaction of putting themselves to the test.
As in any competition, some athletes ended up at the top of the podium. But all were champions.
Before delivering the high school's land acknowledgement, Farina thanked the athletes, families and volunteers for gracing the South County campus.
"Today, we come together to break down barriers and fight against stigmas," Farina said. "As Muhammed Ali once said, 'Champions are made from something deep inside them: A desire, a dream, a vision.'
"So, today, I hope that all our athletes inspire us to this vision, and that they aspire to that ideal."
Following the traditional parade of athletes, the opening ceremony included the presentation of several awards to athletes and supporters.
George Wallace received the Keith C. White Memorial Award, "For striving to achieve goals in life, working to overcome obstacles and aiming to become the best that he can be."
Nya Chaffee took home the Daniel Holian Memorial Award, "For your unwavering perseverance, determination and good attitude, demonstrated here at the Special Olympics as well as each and every day."
Keri Wade was given the Ellen C. and Sheilah M. Graham Memorial Award, "For her unwavering commitment, strength, kindness, compassion and dedication to service in the area of special needs and challenges."
The games, which were postponed due to rain from their scheduled date on May 3, were dedicated to Nancy Forget, a special educator for 30 years who continues to volunteer at the games.
"It is without a doubt she has made a lasting impact doing something she finds so much joy in: supporting others to be the best they can be," read the plaque recognizing the Forget.
After the awards were given out, it was time to get back to the serious business of fun.
"This is a celebration," Doren said. "We get to celebrate some of our most amazing students and most amazing athletes. It's great to see them here. It's great to see them compete and share the values that are so important.
"This is a day to celebrate."
Photos from this event here.
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