Zachary Fallon of Deerfield might not have set a world record in the 50-meter dash Oct. 10 during the Special Olympic Autumn Games at Canastota High School, but you wouldn’t know it by the enthusiastic shouts from his supporters.

Mom Jennifer Fallon was at the finish line with an excited high-five as Zachary crossed, aided in his race by his Madison-Oneida BOCES teacher Danielle Suydam and a couple other volunteers who ran alongside of him. Meanwhile, a crowd lined the track and cheered loudly for all competitors, whether they finished first or brought up the rear.

“I think this is just amazing,” Jennifer said. “This is a great opportunity for everybody, and the athletes are definitely up to the challenge.”

“The kids are all doing an awesome job today,” Suydam agreed. “It’s nice to see them included in all of these athletic events.”

After a parade of all athletes, event organizer Laurie Ann Ross welcomed the athletes, coaches, volunteers and family members to the games by leading them in the Special Olympics oath. As she said the words, “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt,” the hundreds of athletes joined together to repeat that pledge.

Ross said in addition to the BOCES athletes, they also welcomed contestants from Camden, Canastota, Cazenovia, Chittenango, Hamilton, Madison, Morrisville-Eaton, Oneida, Stockbridge Valley and Vernon-Verona-Sherrill school districts.

“I just love this day,” Ross said. “It is so exciting to see close to 300 athletes out here, and just as many coaches and buddies.”

Canastota Superintendent June Clark said that just as much as the Special Olympics was a place for competition, it was also the place for laughter and fun. She said the district was glad to be able to host an event that welcomes athletes of all skill levels to come together in competition that can truly change lives for the better.

“Today, as I look around, I see so many champions,” she complimented the Special Olympians.

Videos of the parade and oath recitation are posted on the Mid-York Weekly’s Facebook page.