BERLIN – A group of special and talented athletes from in and around the resort area last week traveled to St. Mary’s College in Southern Maryland for the 25th Annual Maryland Special Olympics Sailing and Kayaking Regatta and returned with a bunch of medals including five gold, three silver and four bronze.
For 11 years, the Lower Shore Special Olympics teams have trained hard for the annual regatta, now in its 25th year, and the local athletes have brought home more than their share of hardware over the years. Three years ago, kayaking events were added to the regatta and the local teams have been wildly successful in those as well.
This year, the local Special Olympics teams included four sailing teams and five individual kayakers. In the sailing competition a special athlete is paired with a coach, or skipper, with each sharing responsibility for steering the boat and trimming the sails. The sailing competition is divided into mono-hull divisions and catamaran divisions and the local special athletes excelled in both this year.
According to local Special Olympics coach Rachael Parolski, the weather was extremely hot during the two day event held on July 28-29 at St. Mary’s College and the winds were light, but the event was highly successful for the local team with each of the competitors winning medals. It was the 25th anniversary of the Special Olympics sailing competition, which originated in Maryland.
In the sailing competition, special athlete Chad Bishop working with skipper Art Fassio won a gold medal in the catamaran level, while special athlete Rhett Spangler sailing with skipper Bill Thomson won a bronze medal. In the mono-hull competition, special athlete Valerie Reed, working with skipper Kevan Thomson, won a gold medal while special athlete Adam Jolles, sailing with skipper Rich Parolski, won a silver medal.
In the kayaking competition, during which the special athletes compete on their own, the local team won several medals in several different categories. Kurt Dotterweich won a pair of gold medals in the 250-meter and 500-meter race in Division I. Carolyn Foster won a silver medal in the 125-meter race and a bronze in Division IV. Katie West won a gold medal in the 125-meter race and a bronze in the 250-meter race in Division I.
T.J. Jones won a silver medal in the 125-meter race and took fourth in the 250-meter race in Division II. Finally, Frankie Watson won a bronze medal in the 125-meter race in Division II and took fifth place in the 250-meter race in Division I.