Boothbay region Special Olympians competed when the University of Maine in Orono hosted Maine Summer Special Olympics Games June 7-9. The occasion was more than just a competition as athletes from all over Maine came together to celebrate the summer games’ 50th anniversary with a 1969-themed dance to round off the festivities.
Special Olympics Maine was started by Melvin “Mickey” Boutilier in 1969, one year after bringing a group of Maine athletes to Soldier’s Field in Chicago where Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s first national games occurred, said Coach Toby LeConte. Boutilier’s time at Camp Waban in Sanford – the state’s first day camp for children with intellectual disabilities – served as the inspiration leading to his prominence as a special education teacher in Maine. Camp Waban is where the first games were held in Maine.
“Peter Brewster lit the torch and we think he is the only original athlete who attended at age 5 during the very first games at Camp Waban,” said LeConte. “His parents, James and Gloria, have not missed a game as well. They were so proud.”
Competing in events for the adults were: Mindy Stevens, Donny Dunning, Matt Farnham, Joey Ranco, Ronda LeConte, Peter Brewster and Danny Miller. Students competing in events were: Blake Chadwick, Amber Hyson, Valerie Giles, Vincent Giles, John Piper Rankin, Isaac Pray, Grace Giles, Zander Blake, Anthony Angelico, Lucian Stoddard and Coyle Lawler.
Between both teams, Boothbay brought home 12 gold, 16 silver and 23 bronze medals and three fourth place, six fifth, one seventh and one eighth place ribbons.
Boothbay region participated in four 4x100m relay events: Chadwick, Blake, Angelico and Lawler placed third; Hyson, Vincent Giles, Pray and Miller placed second; Valerie Giles, Grace Giles, Ronda LeConte and Joey Ranco placed first; and Brewster, Rankin, Dunning and Farnham are awaiting a rule clarification which will either disqualify them or hand them another gold medal.
“At the last exchange of the 4x100m relay, Piper dropped the baton, it rolled, he picked it up two lanes over, but didn’t impede any runners,” said LeConte.
The weekend was an all-around success and a good time for all, said LeConte, who thanked partners Kathryn Hibbard, Mariah Andrews, Kyle Tozier, Cody Field and Dakota LeConte for coming along.