Special Olympians compete at Stockton College - NBC40.net

Special Olympians compete at Stockton College

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As the gun sounded to kick off the Special Olympics track and field games at Stockton College, many athletes were looking forward to their events.

"I have to rest for my 200 but I think I'll do alright."

Jacquelyn Henkel is competing in her second Olympics as a part of the two-hundred meter and twenty–five meter dash.  And with the bleachers full of friends and family, Jacquelyn is hoping to keep her nerves in check.

"I'm more nervous for the 200 than I am for the 25 because the 25 is shorter," said Henkel.

Many of the athletes have been training since March and spent the day competing in everything from long distance runs to sprints on the track, with the hopes of earning a spot in the state games this summer.

"It's for Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland Counties. We have two hundred athletes competing today and it's a qualifying event for the New Jersey Summer Games," said Sue Kinsell, the area director of the Special Olympics.

Dozens of volunteers, including many students from Stockton, helped make the races possible.

"They're so much fun they're so happy and just wonderful to be around," said Arielle Gaudiello, a student volunteer.

Lauren Gardiner, who was also a student volunteer, shared the same feelings, saying, "it's so much fun to just talk to them and hear how their day is going and how much fun they're having."

Win or lose, the athletes Sunday we're happy to experience the thrill of competition as loved ones in the bleachers cheered them on.

"It's a lot of fun and a lot of people are out here," said Special Olympian Anthony Conner.

"It's just fun seeing everybody. I hope the wind doesn't pick up and start making me make a mistake but it seems like its going to be pretty good," added Jacquelyn Henkel.

The State Summer Games will be held June seventh, eighth and ninth at the College of New Jersey.

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