Panama City - Hundreds of Special Olympians and their families will fill Mike Gavlak Stadium at Arnold High School Friday morning. The opening ceremonies for Bay County's 40th annual Special Olympics kick off at 9:30. A very special athlete will be at the microphone, a place he feels right at home.
Each day at Margaret K. Lewis School begins with the announcements. And each day Cameron Barnett has a starring role. "Today's weather: the high is 60 and no rain," reported Cameron. Friday morning his audience will be bigger than usual. "I'm going to lead the oath" during the Special Olympics. "Let me win and if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt," he said, reciting the oath.
He looks forward to the event every year. "Because I love seeing all my friends at the Special Olympics." While the social aspect is important, coordinator Barbara Churchwell says the main goal is to promote physical fitness and well-being. "By preparing them and doing the sports training and the competition, they feel good about themselves which then goes hand in hand with their educational area of pursuing life's treasures and dreams," said Churchwell.
Cameron's instructors say it's very fitting he is leading the oath, setting the stage for the day. They say he embodies the mission of the games. "There is not a thing in this world Cameron cannot do. He is a very self-determined and self-driven, hardworking individual," said teacher Bruce Kope. "I'm going to do the race, the tennis ball throw and the softball throw," said Cameron, proudly. Good luck to Cameron and all the Special Olympians.
Again, Friday's games are at Arnold's stadium, not Tommy Oliver, since the track is under construction there. Opening ceremonies are at 9:30 at Mike Gavlak stadium.