Athletes show off their abilities at annual Special Olympics Spring Games. (Michel Elben / Carroll County Times)

Cheered on by her peers and family, Sykesville Middle School eighth-grader Debbie Brusio raced to the finish line during the 50-meter dash Friday morning. Debbie was one of 223 athletes who competed in the 46th annual Special Olympics Spring Games at Westminster High School.

"It was fun because we got to do some running," Debbie said after the race.

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Debbie's father, Vince Brusio, of Sykesville, said the event was a way for "the kids just to get to have fun."

"They have a lot of stress about how they fit into society," Brusio said. "A lot of their lives are about learning how to fit into the world. This is a day they get to do what they normally can't."

According to Laurie Brewer, Carroll County Special Olympics' area director, the event was a "good way for our athletes to be able to showcase their abilities." Each Special Olympics athlete competed in three events. They could choose from a shot put throw, a mini-javelin throw, a tennis ball throw, a softball throw, a standing or running long jump, 50-meter dash, 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, 400-meter dash or a relay race.

After competing in the softball throw, therapeutic recreation program member Jesse Shaffer explained that he "likes the competition."

"It feels pretty good to be out here with strong, talented athletes," Shaffer said.

West Middle School seventh-grader Julian Ensor said he has been practicing throwing, running and jumping at school.

"It's really nice that it's an event for all athletes," Julian's mother, Jennifer Ensor, of Westminster, added. "We get to celebrate all the hard work they put in to practice for the events. I like that there's something for everyone. He gets a lot of exercise and builds his self-confidence."

Francis Scott Key High School ninth-grader Chase Haupt said he was looking forward to running on the track.

"I want to run on the track fast like the Road Runner," Haupt said.

FSK's Living for Independence teacher Sharon Cassatt said the students enjoyed competing with friends they don't often see.

"It's the best day of the year," Cassatt said.

Piney Ridge Elementary School physical eduction teacher Scott Booker said his students had been preparing for the games since the beginning of the year.

"It's fun to see the practice they put in pay off," Booker said. "When they know they have this coming, they're motivated to work hard and they have a blast."

Along with Katie Hohman, left, of Winters Mill, and Katie Johns of Hampstead Elementary School, Addison Lewis, 8, of Manchester Elementary School watches his Softball throw land while competing in the Carroll County Special Olympics Spring Games at Westminster High School Friday, April 28, 2017.
Along with Katie Hohman, left, of Winters Mill, and Katie Johns of Hampstead Elementary School, Addison Lewis, 8, of Manchester Elementary School watches his Softball throw land while competing in the Carroll County Special Olympics Spring Games at Westminster High School Friday, April 28, 2017. (DYLAN SLAGLE/STAFF PHOTO / Carroll County Times)

One of Booker's students, second-grader Avery Newman, participated in the games for the first time.

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"I'm excited about the tennis ball throw," Avery said. "I try really hard."

"I'm super excited!" added second-grader Zac Cains, another of Booker's students. "My favorite part is the jumping!"

Sporting a purple princess crown while competing in the long jump, Winfield Elementary School third-grader Naomi Koroma seemed happy to participate.

Naomi's mother, Kim Koroma, of Eldersburg, described the event as "such a fun day."

"It's really powerful to be here and see the community come together to support the kids," Koroma said.

"The games allow the kids to see what they can do," added Naomi's father, Mo Koroma.

Oklahoma Road Middle School sixth grader Vincent Spampinato is congratulated by Jean Hruch, as his grandmother Pam Spampinato, right, looks on, after he won his 50-meter dash during the Carroll County Special Olympics Spring Games at Westminster High School Friday, April 28, 2017.
Oklahoma Road Middle School sixth grader Vincent Spampinato is congratulated by Jean Hruch, as his grandmother Pam Spampinato, right, looks on, after he won his 50-meter dash during the Carroll County Special Olympics Spring Games at Westminster High School Friday, April 28, 2017. (DYLAN SLAGLE/STAFF PHOTO / Carroll County Times)

West Middle School eighth-grader Tasha James said she was looking forward to throwing a ball.

Tasha's mother, Lisa James, of Westminster, said she thought the games were "good for her self-esteem."

"It's inspiring to see. It's really a good thing for her," added Kevin James, Tasha's father.

West Middle School sixth-grader Tina Klein looked forward to spending the day running, jumping and throwing a softball.

Tina's mother, Brenda Klein, of Finksburg, described the day as "a great event."

"It teaches her to go all out and do her best," Klein said.

To learn more, visit www.socrathletes.org.

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