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      Special Olympics Texas plans to introduce new program

      Dominic Romero (left) and Alex Cervantez (right) attended the Polar Plunge to help raise funds for Special Olympics Texas.

      Special Olympics Texas (SOTX) has doubled its number of athletes in just one year, and now its new goal is set for 2014.

      Area Director Megan Spivey said with a total of nearly 1,000 athletes, the organization's future goal is to introduce school districts to unified sports.

      The program is called Young Athletes, and includes children 2-8 years old.

      "It's a program that has athletes with and without intellectual disabilities, and we're trying to combine them together at a young age to let them know that it's okay to be friends with people with special needs, and that we want them from a very young age to play sports together," Spivey said.

      Dominic Romero is 30 years old, and has participated in SOTX his entire life.

      "Swimming and bowling are my favorite," Romero said.

      Romero's stepfather, Alex Cervantez, said sports have allowed Romero to better enjoy his life.

      "It makes him a better person," Cervantez said. "He likes it, it keeps him active and just to have him compete, it just brings the best out of him."

      According to Spivey, SOTX has 12 sports for athletes. Cervantez said if the organization can get school districts to participate, it's going to be a win for the Texas Panhandle.

      "When you can just see that in their eyes, the happiness, it's a good feeling," Cervantez said.