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Panhandle Special Olympics brings positivity to participants

Special Olympics competitors pose for a photo after winning medals.

All competitors jumping in the pool today brought their A-game.

"Our athletes, they put 100 percent, maybe 110, in everything they do," Norm Arias, Special Olympics staff member, said.

Amarillo's Special Olympics aquatic competition means more than just racing to its organizers and competitors.

"We can show the community that our athletes are much more capable of doing a lot more than what people perceive them to do," Arias said.

"It makes us feel really good, we treat each other like family," Special Olympics competitor, Heather Handley said. "It feels good whenever we start to compete."

Arias says just because athletes have disabilities, doesn't mean they aren't capable.

"Other types of sporting events that I've actually worked with where you've got some that are actually really talented, but they don't put as much effort into it," Arias said.

"I love to be involved all of the time, because I just love being involved with all sports," Handley said.

Today's Special Olympics participants are true athletes, happy to be a part of the experience.

"Seeing the smiles on their face, and to say 'hey, look what they've done, look what they've accomplished, and as a whole, as a team, as a community, we did this all together,'" Arias said.

And Arias says coming to see the hard work and dedication the Special Olympics athletes have, gives them the respect they deserve.

"It's not about winning or losing, it's just about how we play the game," Handley said. "We go out there and we have fun," she said.

Organizers say for more information on how to get involved, people can go to their site at www.sotx.org/.

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