Kudos to Mike Davis, owner of Tarheel Towing of Prescott Valley, AZ, for donating $1,000 each year for the past 17 years to the annual Yavapai Area Invitational Spring Games of the Special Olympics!
Here's the story from The Daily Courier:
PRESCOTT VALLEY - Hundreds of people filled the stands and cheered on the 161 athletes who competed Saturday at the 17th annual Yavapai Area Invitational Spring Games of the Special Olympics.
Athletes from northern Arizona Special Olympics groups including Bradshaw Mountain, Flagstaff Hozhoni, Flagstaff Mountaineers, Rainbow Acres, Verde Valley and Williams teams competed at the meet at Bradshaw Mountain High School.
Jill Greedy of the Williams team looked forward to competing in the deadlifting event.
"My max is 145 pounds," Greedy said. "I'm hoping to go to state. I hope my brother can come, since their baby is due around then."
Greedy said she just began competing in the deadlift again after taking a four-year break because of issues with her hands because of cerebral palsy.
Greedy proudly showed off the tattoo on her arm commemorating the seven Special Olympic gold medals in weightlifting and cycling she's earned over the years.
Kenneth McLoughlin of the Bradshaw Mountain team greeted friends, looked forward to seeing his parents at the meet, and couldn't wait for the shot put and the 200-meter events to begin.
"I'm so glad my mother, sister and nephew are here already," said Brandy Snow of the Bradshaw Mountain team. Snow competed in the softball throw and 100-meter walk.
"I like that Little Caesar guy," Snow said pointing to the mascot.
The mascots from local entities - including the Prescott High School Badger and businesses such as Wendy's and Red Robin - gave out hugs as they mingled with the crowd, posed for photos, and later ran a race.
Marnie Uhl, director of the Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce, welcomed everyone to opening ceremonies as the Bradshaw Mountain Middle School and Glassford Hill Middle School bands played the Olympic Theme.
Honor guards from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Army ROTC, the Prescott Police Department, and the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office presented the colors on the sunny, but windy day.
"Please welcome our athletes," said Commander Laura Molinaro of the Prescott Valley Police Department who is part of the Games management team. "They've been practicing a lot for this competition."
The crowd erupted in cheers as the athletes paraded by the stands with Special Olympics Arizona CEO Tim Martin, Yavapai County Sheriff Steve Waugh, Prescott Police Chief Mike Kabbel, and Prescott Valley Vice Mayor Lora Lee Nye and other local leaders.
Cassandra Tallman of the Bradshaw Mountain team sang the national anthem.
Brad Penner, chaplain of the Prescott Valley Police Department, said, "Bless them as they compete and keep them safe," during his invocation.
Molinaro thanked Tarheel Towing for donating $1,000 each year to the Special Olympics Games for the past 17 years and Dr. Henry Schmitt of Humboldt Unified School District for giving the event use of the field each year.
Mike Davis, owner of Tarheel Towing, told the athletes, "All we ask is that you have fun."
NARTA Recruit Officer Brent Kimbriel of the Chino Valley Police Department ran in carrying the torch flanked by police officers on bicycles then handed it to Chris DeWolfe of the Bradshaw Mountain team who lit the Olympic torch.
"That was fun," said DeWolfe afterward.
Uhl thanked the many sponsors, volunteers, athletes and their families, and people who turned out to cheer on the athletes.
Athlete Robert Airas of the Flagstaff Mountaineers team and Kabbel read the Special Olympics Oath together: "Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."
"We are about to witness the most pure event and athletic competition," Martin said. "Let the games begin."
In the shot put area, Coach Robert Ziegler of the Bradshaw Mountain Special Olympics team reminded the athletes to warm up before competition.
"State games are in three weeks and we don't want to get hurt now," Ziegler said.
After Haley Stanfer of the Bradshaw Mountain team finished her practice throw and stepped out of the ring, she said "Coach Robert and Dillon in power lifting helped train us."
Stanfer also said she looked forward to competing in the pentathlon next.
In the power lifting area, Dillon Haag of the Bradshaw Mountain team successfully lifted 155 pounds. Afterward, he said this is his first year doing this in the Special Olympics.
"My favorite event is deadlifting and that's coming up soon," Haag said.
Willie Allen of the Bradshaw Mountain team - who lifted 105 pounds - said he has been training and competing in power lifting for three years.
"I lift almost as much as I weigh," Allen said.
After the 25-meter wheelchair race, Julio Sanchez of the Verde Valley team smiled to cheers of "Yea, Julio!" and "We love you Julio!" coming from the stands.
"It's my favorite event. I practice a lot," Sanchez said.
Leandra Yazza of the Hozhoni Flagstaff team won the wheelchair slalom race.
Yazza said it's her favorite event and she's been competing in it for the past four years.
Like many other athletes, Yazza looks forward to competing in the state Special Olympics meet in Phoenix. To compete in state, the athletes must have completed eight weeks of training and competed in a regional meet.