Cullman County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Rex Sorrow enjoys a laugh with a participant in 2017’s Cullman Area Special Needs Track and Field Day. This year’s event will take place this Friday, April 20, 2018. (Tribune file photo)
CULLMAN – This Friday morning the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO), Cullman Police Department, and other local agencies will put on the annual Cullman Area Torch Run leading from the Cullman County Courthouse to Cullman High School’s Oliver Woodard Stadium for the Cullman Area Special Needs Track and Field Day. CCSO Lt. Rex Sorrow is coordinating the Torch Run, and Cullman County Child Development Center Adaptive Physical Education teacher Bridget Keef is handling the track and field events at the stadium.
According to Sorrow, participants in the run should plan to meet on the front steps of the courthouse around 8:30 Friday morning, where they will await word from the stadium about the arrival of the athletes. Then sheriff’s office, police and other agency representatives will light the torch and carry it from the courthouse to the stadium, where special needs athletes will help carry it around the track to open the games.
“The Torch Run is just to bring awareness to the track and field games,” said Sorrow, “and just kind of open it up.”
At the stadium, special needs athletes will take part in multiple track and field games, including some typical events and some that will be specially geared toward the athletes’ abilities and needs. Gene Hicks, a REHAU supervisor and part-time DJ, has volunteered to provide both a sound system and music for the event, and Jimmy Dale Burgess of WFMH Radio will call the events as announcer.
Sorrow described Hicks as “a fantastic guy, volunteers his time and his equipment to come out and help us. I mean, it just adds so much, makes it such a great atmosphere to have that music there.” And of Burgess, Sorrow said, “Jimmy Dale works with a lot of these special needs students, calling ball games and things like that over at the Field of Miracles, so he does a really good job with that. He knows a lot of these kids by name.”
Through earlier fundraising efforts, the sheriff’s office will provide free event shirts for torch runners and athletes, medals for the participants and food. Sheriff Matt Gentry and his deputies will be cooking and serving free hamburgers and hot dogs for the participants, volunteers and spectators.
“It doesn’t matter who you are,” said Sorrow. “If you want to just come and stop in, and see what’s going on, and have a hamburger or a hot dog, we’d love to have anybody!
“The sheriff loves working with special needs students. He loves our community first of all, and then he loves our special needs community just that much more. And he puts his heart and his soul, and his money, into trying to make this a good thing, just like our rodeo.
“We always have a lot of great participation from everybody. I mean there’s people from all over Cullman County that come out and participates . . . Bridget Keef, I think she does a fantastic job on her end, as far as working to get this all put together.”
Planners are preparing for up to 170 athletes to take part, with 30 to 40 volunteers helping out.
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