Rudy Goines' blue car lumbered out of the parking lot of City College, back end sagging from the weight of the load of teen-age boys.
The four boys inside had only circled the track once, but in 90-degree heat, running was no easy task. So Goines took them out to get something cool to drink.
Goines, the coach of the Venable High School track team, has made a career of changing the lives of the young people he meets. Tomorrow, he'll be cheering on his team in the 25th Maryland Special Olympics Summer Games. The games run tomorrow through Sunday at Towson State University.
Venable will be trying to defend its 4 x 100 relay title.
Last year, Venable raced to a first-place time of 48.1 seconds, and the team is favored to win the event again.
Senior Carlos Vanegas, junior Tico Clawson, junior Brian Fultz, recent graduate Wally Cromwell and sophomore alternate Donte Byrd were urged by Goines to join the team. They have made some fantastic strides.
That includes being invited to participate in the Penn Relays for the third consecutive year. This year, Venable was the only Maryland special-education school invited to the the relays.
Last year and two years ago, competing against other special-education schools from across the country, Venable finished fourth in the 4 x 100.
But this year, the team brought home silver and bronze medals after finishing second (47.2 seconds) and third (48.1) in two 4 x 100 relays.
"I can foresee next year, this team doing a 45 or a 46, because they're still young," Goines said. "They could do better than that."
Goines had to discover and cultivate the talent on the team, and in one case, he had to do a little convincing.
"Tico at first said he couldn't run, 'I can't beat anybody. What am I doing out here?,' " Goines said. "Last June when we went to the Special Olympics, Tico was sitting there looking all sad and I said, 'Tico, what's wrong?' He said, 'I can't beat them.'
"I told him the night before the race, 'Tico, you're going to beat somebody tomorrow morning.' He came in second place. I knew he could. Now, every time he sees somebody he says 'I can beat them running.' "
In addition to the team event, the members of the Venable team will compete in individual events. All five will compete in the 100 meters, and Vanegas will run in the 200.
"[Winning this weekend] means a lot," Vanegas said. "I like to win -- basketball, track, lacrosse. Last year, that was my dream. I was just happy."
That alone is Goines' reward.
FACTS AND FIGURES
What: The Maryland Special Olympics, more than 1,100 athletes competing in swimming, track and field, equestrian, power lifting, softball and volleyball
Where: Towson State
Schedule: Tomorrow -- Parade of athletes, 7:45 p.m.; Olympic torch lighting, 8:45-9 p.m.; dance and fireworks, 9-10 p.m. Saturday -- Sporting competitions 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Olympic Towne (entertainment, clowns, jugglers, giveaways) 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Street festival, evening entertainment 8-10:30 p.m. Sunday -- Sporting competitions and Olympic Towne, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.