On the Road for the Penguin Run

By JESSICA FAGAN
Penguin Run Race Director

The Penguin Run began in 2005 as a 5K fundraiser for Special Olympics Arkansas, with 27 participants that first year! Our numbers continue to grow with the addition of a 10K in 2010, and 121 runners in the two races in 2012. The White River Roadrunners Club is wonderfully supportive of these races that take you across and along the beautiful White River. The atmosphere is fun, everyone gets a medal, and runners compete for overall and age group awards.

But most important, the Penguin Run benefits Special Olympics Arkansas (watch their video)! The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for all children and adults with intellectual disabilities — giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

The athletes in Special Olympics Arkansas have a unique view of winning. To them, a ribbon earned simply for participating may mean as much as a gold medal. No matter whether they come in first or last, what counts is trying. Through Special Olympics Arkansas, individuals with intellectual disabilities gain skills that enhance every aspect of their lives. They develop physical abilities, social skills, and discipline, build self-esteem and participate in the mainstream of society. Best of all, they experience the satisfaction and pride of achievement that comes from pushing one's limits and building real-world skills that benefit them at home, at school, and in the workplace.

Special Olympics Arkansas is always looking for energetic people to serve as volunteers. You do not have to be a great athlete yourself; all you need is the desire and the dedication to reach out and inspire greatness. There are countless ways to get involved: Serve as a chaperone, sports official, or spectator; enlist your school, company, church or civic organizations to serve as volunteers in the largest sports organization in the world for athletes with intellectual disabilities. Join the world of winners!

You can help make Special Olympics Arkansas a winning program. No matter how you choose to help, your efforts will have an impact on the athletes. Any time you can give will be appreciated. Financial support is always needed and your contribution will be tax deductible to the extent of the law. We hope that you will become an active part in helping special people reach for their dreams!