Lisa Luna & Rebecca Pesqueda
Despite the threat of being rained out, the Special Olympics track meet hosted by the Atascosa-McMullen Cooperative was held at Eagle Stadium on Friday, May 4 beginning with the opening ceremonies at 9:30 a.m.
Over 500 student athletes from La Vernia, Sabinal, East Central, South Side, Medina Valley, Harlandale, Somerset, Falls City, Poth, Stockdale and Floresville joined students from Jourdanton, Poteet and Pleasanton to compete in field and running events throughout the day.
For the very first time this year, the Special Olympics kicked-off with a Law Enforcement Torch Run beginning in front of the Pleasanton Police Department, just before 9:30. Pleasanton ISD Chief of Police, Humberto Torralba II gave the opening remarks.
“This is the first ever Law Enforcement Special Olympics Torch Run,” said Chief Torralba. “Hopefully in the future we will be able to have more runners such as yourself, that take into consideration the special needs of individuals such as the ones you are going to meet at the football stadium.”
He then introduced Pleasanton Mayor Clinton J. Powell.
“Through the power of sports, people with intellectual disabilities discover new strengths and abilities, skills and success. Our athletes find joy, confidence and fulfillment on the playing field and in life. They also inspire people in their communities and elsewhere to open their hearts to a wider world of human talents and potential,” said Powell. “Your efforts today demonstrate law enforcement’s commitment to help those in need. On behalf of the City of Pleasanton and Pleasanton ISD Police Department, we thank you for your participation.”
Participating agencies in the Torch Run were Atascosa County, Pleasanton ISD Police Department, Pleasanton Police Department and Poteet PD. The officer holding the torch as it left the station was Deputy Caleb Bunch. The event was organized by the Pleasanton ISD Police Department.
Upon entering the stadium, Deputy Bunch handed off the torch to this year’s Grand Marshals, Kevin and Audrey McCleary of the #spreadkindnessforMandT movement. JROTC Color Guard presented the colors as Ryan Jaloway sang the National Anthem. John E. Ulbricht, CEO from Methodist Hospital South, offered a prayer for the athletes and Frankie Aguero, representing Poteet ISD, recited the Special Olympics Oath. Flying J Services, owned by Joseph and Monica Myer, flew above the stadium to capture the Torch Run.
Students participated in field events such as tennis throwing and running long jump along with running events including wheelchair, walk and running races.
This year’s sponsors included Dairy Queen, Prosperity Bank, Cafe Chris, Kings Medicine, Tender Care Learning Center, Paisley’s Boutique, Texas Farm Bureau, Whataburger, Sonic, Shifter’s American Grill, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Atascosa McMullen Retired School Association, Methodist Hospital South, Blanco Creek Farms, Crazy About Mangonadas, Jay & Gena Powell, Knights of Columbus, #spreadkindessforMandT movement, BC Barber and Salon, Threads Custom Embroidery and Walmart.
Barbecue cooks this year were Knights of Columbus, Ken Buccafurri, Richard Esquivel, Larry Esquivel, Roy Zuniga, Mario Murillo, Mark Olle and Joe Lopez. Melissa Curbow, Angelita Garza, Bertie Ortiz, Tammy Bosquez, Diana Morado and the Pleasanton Dance Team helped prepare the meals for the 800 athletes and volunteers that came out that day.
Michelle Gonzales, coach and Special Olympics Coordinator, also wishes to thank the Touchdown Booster Club for setting up the Big Eagle tunnel for the Parade of Champions, JJ Zamora, Darold Norment, Jamie’s Ranch for Special Kids and Tuttle Motor Co.
Somerset ISD Athletic Director, Keith Higgbotham also arranged for Maury Vasquez to be the announcer.
Matthew Valdez andOriana Ortiz did a drone video of the Special Olympics that can be viewed on YouTube: “Pleasanton Special Olympics hosted by the Atascosa McMullen Co-Op”.
The Pleasanton High School Culinary Class and the Jourdanton High School Economics Class also made sugar cookies and prepped vegetables for the event.
“Thank you very much to my Co-op staff, Pleasanton, Jourdanton, Poteet High School Volunteers and all other volunteers that came to help out,” said Gonzales. “Also Kevin and Audrey McCleary for being Grand Marshals, and PHS Superintendent Dr. Mann and Yvonne Little for their generosity in allowing us to host the Atascosa-McMullen Special Olympics Track Meet at Eagle Stadium.”
If your business or organization would like to join in the fun, please contact Michelle Gonzales at the Atascosa-McMullen Cooperative.