By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4)– Special Olympics Colorado kicked off two days of competition on Wednesday for students in Denver Public Schools. This week’s competition focuses on track and field events.

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“I just feel like I could win,” said Anaya Travick, a student with special needs. “Be like a champion.”

The events began in the morning with a parade inside All-City Stadium of all the athletes who are competing at the elementary school level. Middle school and high school students will compete Thursday.

Travick is a student at Asbury Elementary. She participated in a relay race and her team won second place.

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“It gives kids the opportunity from a very young age that they are more alike than different,” said Mindy Watrous, president & CEO of the organization.

Teams are made up of students from all skill levels. It’s part of the Special Olympics motto to “Play United.”

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“The playing field is a great equalizer,” said Watrous. “It just helps build inclusivity, kindness, aware schools.”

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More than 25,000 athletes are part of Special Olympics Colorado. Volunteers are always needed to help and coach teams. You can sign up on the organization’s website. Some have committed to serving the organization for 15 years.

“We get a lot out of it but it’s also important for these athletes to see they have support from the community,” said Doug Foulton, a longtime volunteer.

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Staff who spent time with these students in school say it is a delight to watch them outside enjoying each other away from the classroom.

“It’s a blast, it’s so special to watch these kids excel,” said Sara Hogan, a special education para professional at Asbury Elementary.

Students that competed in the first day of events were excited to celebrate their accomplishments as well as congratulate the other athletes.

“Every kid is amazing,” said Travick.

“So true, every one of these kids is amazing,” Hogan added.

LINK: Special Olympics Colorado

Shawn Chitnis

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