Ryan Sparks
Curry Coastal Pilot

Curry County Special Olympians joined their supporters and members of the law enforcement community on Monday as the 2014 Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics made its way through Brookings and Gold Beach.

The run, in preparation for the Oregon Special Olympic Games on July 12 and 13 at the Newberg High School Stadium in Newberg, made its way through Brookings-Harbor and Gold Beach where Curry County Special Olympians were greeted by many fans along their route, cheering them on and honking car horns in support.

Approximately 55 runners, including local law enforcement personnel, members of 4-H and U.S. Forest Service firefighters, joined the Special Olympians in the Gold Beach leg of the torch run, which began at the Forestry Service Offices on Ellensburg Avenue to the Port of Gold Beach. Each runner was presented with an opportunity to carry the Flame of Hope and was given a T-shirt commemorating the run.

"They all want the shirt; that's a big thing for them," joked Gold Beach Police Chief Dixon Andrews, who led the procession. "Every year they come up to me and say, "Am I going to get a shirt this year?"

Andrews and head coach Macen Parke have reason to be jovial, as a great performance at last month's regional meet in Grants Pass has them hoping for success in Newberg.

"We brought home 19 medals from 18 athletes at regionals," said Parke. "We expect to do a lot better up at state."

Both Andrews and Parke are quick to point out the great benefit the competition has had on their athletes.

"They look forward to competing and every time they complete an event they are succeeding," said Andrews. "It's not about what they can't do, but what they can do and can be successful at. Just like everyone else, they want to be successful and this just builds their confidence."

Parke agrees, adding the joy he receives from coaching is unparalleled.

"To see a guy get a seventh place ribbon and just yell, "Yeah!" and come out of their skins. They are just so happy to get something around their neck," added Parke. "That's what it's all about."