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Huntington High hosts Special Olympics

May. 03, 2013 @ 11:27 PM

HUNTINGTON -- This time of year, parents are spending evenings and weekends watching their children play soccer or baseball. That's not always the case for those whose children have special needs.

That's why Friday was momentous for Ralph Cutlip, whose 14-year-old autistic grandson competed in Cabell County's Special Olympics.

"This is the super bowl for me," said Cutlip, as he held the ribbon Luke Young won in the 50-meter run. "This is ours and it's once a year."

Friday's event at Huntington High School drew about 380 children and adults, age 8 and up, who competed in such events as the long jump and races. They also had the ball toss, where Cody Wiles earned third place. His "buddy," Huntington High sophomore Zack Simpson, said it was a joy to watch him step up on the podium and receive his medal.

"It's so heartwarming to see these kids get on the stand and get a medal," said Simpson, who took a peer tutoring for special needs class this year. "It makes me happy to be here for them."

It's also gratifying for teachers, who have worked with the students all year. Amy Brumfield, who teaches at Milton Elementary, said the children ask about Special Olympics all the time, wondering when that spring day will come.

"This is probably the most important day to our students," she said. "Sometimes they struggle to do what normal students do, but today is not a struggle. This is a normal day for them."

The 17-year-veteran said it was much more emotional for her because it's her last for Cabell County. Her husband's job was transferred to Nashville, so she said she wanted to soak in the atmosphere and enjoy it with her students.

"I love these kids and I love this event," Brumfield said.

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