Special Olympic torch bearers run through Socorro

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Special Olympian athletes waited with anticipation yesterday in the Socorro plaza for the torch bearers to appear. The ceremony honors these athletes as they prepare to head to the state championship meet this weekend. As volunteers from area police and fire departments appeared bearing the torch, the athletes joined them and ran into the plaza.

Elva K. Österreich/El Defensor Chieftain: Area Special Olympics athletes join the Guardians of the Flame New Mexico Law Enforcement Torch Run 2013 as it enters the Socorro plaza after running along California Street on Tuesday. The New Mexico Special Olympic Games are held this coming weekend in Albuquerque.

Applause was heard amid the sirens and footfalls. The torch bearers carried the torch from San Antonio, through Socorro via Interstate 25, and then back through town and into the plaza.

Stella Shoemaker, 47, is probably the longest-standing participant from this area in the statewide competition. Shoemaker has been participating for approximately 25 years, and has received medals in various events for several years. She will run in the 50 meter run this year.

“I probably have 100 medals,” Shoemaker said of her achievements in the Special Olympics over the years. “I like to meet other people. I enjoy it.”

This year, there will be eight adult participants, according to Julie Marquez, of Tresco Inc., who coaches the adult athletes. In addition, Lillian Trujillo from Socorro Consolidated Schools has coached several junior high and high school students participating in events such as the 50-meter run, 100-meter run, 50-meter assisted walk and the softball throw.

The Special Olympics will begin Friday afternoon at 1 p.m., with most events occurring on Saturday, at the University of New Mexico Stadium in Albuquerque. For more information, contact either Marquez at jmarques@trescomail.org or Lillian Trujillo at ltrujillo@socorro.k12.nm.us.