ARDMORE, OK -- More than a dozen local athletes are home tonight after competing in the Special Olympics in Stillwater, Oklahoma. This year marked the 40th anniversary of Oklahoma’s Special Olympics. More than 5,000 athletes from across the state took part in the games. Shelby Levins sat down with a local athlete.
In the Special Olympics, athletes get a rare opportunity to compete on an equal playing field, and everyone gets to come home a champion. We talked to one local Ardmore athlete who came home after winning a Special Olympics medal.
Christian Vaughn is a true champion. He returned home from the Special Olympics last week with this bronze medal in the 100 yard dash.
“If I could say one thing about the Special Olympics, it would be joy - it's joyful.”
For Christian and his grandmother, Maureen Milikan, this was their first trip to the Special Olympics. But the two came home with more than a winning medal and lots of pictures-- they have life long memories and a new sense of confidence
“Even though it poured down rain we just had a ball, it's something I’ll never forget and I know Christian won’t.”
Christian's teacher, Donna Stanton, says that's the whole purpose of the Special Olympics.
“It gives them a chance to be a star in a competitive nature. Their individual differences are still recognized, but yet they are still competing against each other so they get a taste of competition,” Stanton says.
And Christian came home a star. He says running is one of his favorite things, but his legs don't just move fast on the track. We even had a hard time keeping up with him at school.
Milikan and Stanton say they will continue to cheer on their champion just like they did during his race.
“When he first came off that starting line he was looking for us. We cheered him on, and he just really went fast and did a great job and won that medal.”
Tuesday is also Christian’s 14th birthday. He says he's already looking forward to next year's Special Olympics.