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Deaf Olympics draws 70 youths

Deaf Olympics draws 70 youths

By Charles Bryce Special to the Standard-Times
May 6, 2011

SAN ANGELO, Texas — Judging by the laughter, the contagious smiles and the
numerous congratulatory high-fives Friday, the West Texas Deaf Olympics at
Old Bobcat Stadium was a big hit.

More than 70 youths from San Angelo, Del Rio, Rocksprings, Brownwood, Early,
Mason, Lubbock, Grape Creek, Panther Creek and elsewhere across Texas
competed in individual and team events as parents, grandparents, other
family members and teachers watched with pride and cheered them on.

The students showcased their talents in events such as the rope climb, rock
wall climb, obstacle course, long jump, pull-ups arm hang, sit-ups, soccer
kicks and running sprints.

Festivities got under way with the individual events. After participants ate
lunch, they wrapped up the competition with team events, followed by an
awards ceremony with picture-taking and prizes.

Event organizers rolled out the red carpet for the student-athletes. They
provided them with snacks and refreshments, sunscreen and chair massages.

Del Rio’s Ernesto Garcia, one of the youngest competitors, made it look easy
when breezed his way to the top of the rock climb, which was about 20 feet

Apparently, the youngster doesn’t have a fear of heights whatsoever.

“He’s not afraid of danger,” his mother said in Spanish through an
interpreter. “He likes to try anything. He’s very active.”

This was the second year for Ernesto to compete in the Deaf Olympics, and he
was eager to be back.

“He always has the desire,” his mother said. “He’s always looking forward to

Brady’s Mariah Pfiester dazzled the crowd by doing 201 sit-ups. She stays
active, and her background in gymnastics gave her a leg up.

Sue Marchbank, Mariah’s teacher, said the 10-year-old makes Marchbank’s job
easier in the classroom.

“She’s just a delightful kid,” Marchbank said of the fourth-grader. “She
really is. She helps me to teach other members of her class sign language.”

Chris Valdez, of Anson, was one of the many proud parents on hand Friday.
His 2-year-old son, Anthony, goes to school in Abilene, and the family was
excited to take part in the special day for the first time.

“This is just a great event,” Chris Valdez said after watching his older son
Isiah show his little the brother the ropes in the obstacle course. “This
has just been terrific.”

When asked if he was having fun competing, Anthony emphatically replied,

Rocksprings’ Melissa Fernandez, whose son Angel was competing, had nothing
but good things to say about the Deaf Olympics.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Fernandez said. “It’s helpful to him. He gets to see
that all of the other kids are just like him. I think it lets them know that
they can do the same things that the other kids can do. It’s not really any

Last year, when the Fernandez family came for the first time, Angel got to
see another child with cochlear implants like his for the first time, which
was beneficial for him, said his teachers Donna Cook and Alison Barton.

San Angeloans Abraham Granado and Travan Carter were two of the older

Carter said, “it’s fun seeing him out here,” when asked if he had more fun
competing or watching his friend.

Seven-year-old Riley Boling, of Sterling City, couldn’t wait to get over to
the pull-ups arm hang event right after he strutted his stuff in the running

“I like the dash and the rock climbing,” Riley said, in addition to being a
big fan of the soccer kick.

Like a lot of the adults, San Angeloan Gilbert Dominguez was using his
camcorder to record memories for a lifetime. His grandson, Xavier Valdez,
was one of the youngest athletes.

“I’m going to go see my mom for Mother’s Day in Levelland,” his grandfather
said. “I’m recording so that she can see her great-grandchild.”

Event coordinator Brenda Wellen, of Lee Middle School, said it was a
wonderful day for everyone involved.

“We’ve had lots more attendance from the past years when we started,” she
said. “It’s grown substantially.

“They’ve had a good time, and it’s not only just a place for the kids to
connect with each other and find other people who (do) sign (language) or
wear cochlear implants or communicate the way they communicate, it’s also a
connecting spot for parents, too, and the staff.

“It’s the only time that the parents get to see each other, and it’s the
only time that the students get to see each other. It’s kind of a reunion
every year.”



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