Rotary Club of Cedar Creek Lake President Greg Cooley (left) presents a $2,000 check to Special Olympics representative Merritt Harpole to support this year’s athletes in competition...
     The Rotary Club of Cedar Creek Lake - recently presented Special Olympics representative Merritt Harpole with a $2,000 check to support the program in Mabank, Texas.  With a heart for area children, the club has always supported Special Olympics, both financially and by volunteering at events, but has recently decided to give more.
Mabank Special Olympics was founded in 1986 with six athletes, Harpole told the group. Currently there are 54 local athletes who compete locally at area events, some going on to state competitions.  Special Olympics gives many opportunities to these athletes, beyond the ability to compete in physical events. The benefits include the opportunity to socialize, to see others like themselves and showcase talents they may not know they have. “It gives them a feeling of accomplishment, of self-worth,” Harpole said.
     The age range for participants from eight years of age to 62, with the oldest competitor being 83. “It’s especially important for post-education members. After high school, they tend to get lost in the community, not having opportunities to socialize. This gives them time with their peers and many long-lasting friendships are formed,” Harpole added.
     The Spring Track and Field competition is held the second weekend in April and can have upwards of 300 athletes in attendance. This is the largest expense and takes many hands. Community volunteers are always welcome to help at events and many groups including Rotarians and Interact Club members help out at these events.  Athletes must compete in three local events before going on to area competition. From area competitions, athletes go on to state, which requires overnight stays.  Funding is needed for lodging, meals and uniforms for the athletes. 
Mabank Special Olympics is a totally volunteer organization with a budget of $15,000 per year.
Volunteers and support are always needed and welcomed, for more information, visit or call Judy Hunter at (903) 887-7624.