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Storms Hold off Long Enough for Special Olympics in Tunkhannock

TUNKHANNOCK, Pa. -- Before the strong storms hit and tornado warnings were issued, the sun was shining brightly over the Tunkhannock Area School District football field, where the annual Special Olympics track and field competitions were held.

"We Are The Champions" played on the loud speaker as athletes crossed the finish line. One of those gold medal finishers was 14-year-old Emilee Smith from Forest City Regional.

Emilee actually got a few medals. She, along with about 400 other students from special education classes from 15 districts in the area, competed at the annual Special Olympics at Tunkhannock Area High School. The events included real track and field competitions.

The volunteers are teachers and students from Tunkhannock. They've been hosting the Special Olympics for more than 20 years.

"It means everything. I've been doing this for years," said Tunkhannock Area senior Lucas Bucciarelli. "This is probably my third year doing this. Seeing a smile on their face just brings me happiness. I love it."

"That's really all they know is inclusion. I know for a fact here in Tunkhannock we support inclusion, so they love it. Everybody that is involved just loves it," said Mary Beth Howell, Tunkhannock Area's special education coordinator.

On this hot, sunny day, there was no better refreshment than snow cones. After a little mishap with the machine in the morning, volunteers improvised until they were able to fix it.

"The snow cones were super sour. Most of the kids didn't mind, but some of them did let us know. Again, our community stood behind us and one of the area party stores donated syrup," Howell added.

Organizers can't help but wonder how they got so lucky. That the storms held off until after the Special Olympics were over.