While overcoming a challenge is nothing new for a person with a disability, the adversity that Gardner Gold Special Olympics athletes experienced this track season was beyond what anyone imagined.
Gardner Gold’s track season challenges began early with many of the practices and the first meet of the season in the Kansas City Metro area cancelled due to rain.
The team rebounded well however, with warmer weather and a strong showing at the Leavenworth Invitational placing well in every event entered.
The six team members came home with a total of 27 medals. This accomplishment was even more amazing due to a health scare just before the meet with the assistant coach.
Also during the Leavenworth meet, one of the most unselfish acts of sportsmanship and the Special Olympics credo was exhibited by one of Gardner’s young athletes.
This runner not only had to overcome his own obstacles but also helped his mother overcome the challenges of having brain surgery. When he finished his leg of the relay race, he realized he was far ahead of another team, and raced back to cheer them on for the remainder of the race.
The quick season came to a close at the Summer Games in Wichita during the first weekend of June. The atmosphere of fun, sun, and racing acted like an elixir for Gardner Gold.
Gardner’s seven athletes came away from the event tired, happy, and loaded with awards. In all, gold members brought home 34 medals, with 13-Gold, 3-Silver medals, 3-Bronze medals, 8-Fourth place, 3-Fifth place, and 4-Sixth place ribbons.
But the most extraordinary triumph over adversity this season came from a young man who endured no less than four major surgeries in the past year,  and had not been able to participate in Special Olympics for almost a full year. This amazing young man joined the team mid way through the season, and surprised everyone during the state meet with an unbelievable run of 3-Gold medals, 1-Fourth place, and – Sixth place ribbon.
While challenging adversity is nothing new for any of us, this group of youth in Gardner has done an amazing job of overcoming obstacles, while also enjoying the challenge of athletics.