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story.lead_photo.caption Special Olympians from Fulton participate in the 2016 parade of athletes at South Callaway High School in Mokane. The games will be returning at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 8 Photo by Helen Wilbers / Fulton Sun.

For the fourth year, South Callaway High School will host a Special Olympics event.

The games will make their return to Mokane at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 8. Event organizer Angie Trammell, said she is expecting a great turnout at this year's games.

"As of now, we have 133 athletes signed up, which is already up 35 athletes from last year's games," Trammell said.

This is one of the many local events Special Olympics Missouri sponsors. Trammell said after years of students competing in a Special Olympics event in Hermann, she was inspired to bring the games closer for local athletes.

"Several years back, I thought there was no reason we couldn't do something like that for schools that are in this area," she said.

Trammell said this event leaves a huge impact on its participants. She said parents have told her some competitors will keep their medals on for as long as three weeks after the games because of how proud they are.

"At that moment they're not a student with disabilities," Trammell said.

Eleven area schools will be competing in this year's event. These high schools include South Callaway, Fulton, Tuscumbia, St. Elizabeth, Fatima, Chamois, Blair Oaks, Linn, New Bloomfield, Russellville and Community R-6.

The games will feature an opening ceremony parade, competition in track and field events, and lunch for all athletes and volunteers. Track and field events will include walking, running and wheelchair races; a running and standing long jump; and a baseball throw.

"The reason we keep doing it is because when you see those kids out there participating and you see the emphasis is on their ability and not their disability, that makes it worth it," Trammell said.

Trammell said they are anticipating they will prepare 500 total lunches for athletes and volunteers. While the event already has an ample amount of volunteers, she encouraged community members to volunteer their time to cheer the competitors on.

"We would welcome anyone in the community to come and watch and cheer those kids on," she said.

Competitors in the games are students ages 8 and older, and there will also be non-competitive activities for younger students. There will be stations set up with games for students 3-7 years old to help their developmental skills. Trammell said 70 children have already signed up for this.

She told the story of a previous competitor who was considered "non-verbal" before competing in the games. After winning a medal, she said the student "let loose" and could not contain his excitement.

"When you see those kid's faces, it's 100 percent worth it," Trammell said.

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