This year marked the 30th year that the city of Dothan and its police department held the Special Olympics, and for the more than 200 athletes, it means the world to them.
Early Wednesday morning Dothan’s police officers and Special Olympic athletes lined up to begin the six and a half mile torch run. They made their way to Dothan High School's track where family members and friends were waiting to cheer their athletes.
"They're very excited that their parents can come out and watch, their families can come out and watch, their teachers can come out and watch, their peers can come out and watch. And it just gives them an opportunity, and a lot of them it's the first time they've seen them compete,” said Angie Lowe with the Dothan Dept. of Leisure Services.
Eight-year participant B.J. Grey was one of the first to take home a first place prize.
"I love it. They do me good," said B.J Grey.
His mother Sharon said this is a feat that over the years has come naturally for him.
"He's got an album full of the ribbons that he's won. He's got silver metals, gold metals, and we've got them hanging up in the living room."
For months the Special Olympic athletes trained to hit the asphalt at lighting speeds, or throw tennis balls to see how far it would go, or even learn how to swerve through cones for the thrill of competing.
Because of Cooperate Sponsors and Dothan’s police department holding fundraisers, athletes like B.J can continue to make their dreams come true.
"I think it builds a stronger bond between law enforcement and the community that we serve," said Dothan Police Chief John Powell.
A few of the athletes will be chosen to go to Auburn where they will participate in a state competition.
Athletes were represented from Dothan city schools, Houston and Dale County schools, along with those from the Vaughn Bloomberg and John Conti work centers.