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500 ATHLETES COMPETE IN SPECIAL OLYMPICS : ANTELOPE VALLEY MOTHER MAKES ANNUAL GAMES A FAMILY AFFAIR.

Byline: Karen Thatcher Special to the Daily News

Running track at the Antelope Valley Special Olympics is no longer an individual event for Kathy Browning.

It's now a family affair.

Kathy's three daughters ages 8, 10 and 11 participated in their first Special Olympics Saturday at the annual games at Antelope Valley College. Besides competing, Kathy Brown who helped open the event by leading the Pledge of Allegiance.

``They will have fun doing like I did,'' Browning said. ``I'm the only one at track who has kids.''

Browning's first experience with Special Olympics came when she was about 8 years old. At the world games in Vermont, she took skiing lessons for a week and then competed, taking home two gold medals.

``She's a natural athlete,'' said Dennis Wick, volunteer director of the Antelope Valley Special Olympics.

Track and field is still her first love, especially the 100 and 200 meter races - events in which she admits most of the contenders are ``taller and younger'' than she is.

``It's a marvelous little family,'' Wick said. ``It's just a really unique success story. There's so much stereotyping with mentally handicapped kids and families.''

Browning's husband works at Rockwell Corp. in Palmdale. She walks the kids to school, fixes meals, and - like all others participating in Saturday's games - they practice their sports once a week.

``Look at what are considered `normal' families and the way some of these people treat their kids,'' Wick said. ``They (the Brownings) are healthy, happy and content . . . I think it's an eye-opener for us.''

Wick, works full-time at Antelope Valley College and teaches life skills to the mentally handicapped, and sees first hand the accomplishments of those he works with.

``They can do a lot more than people think if you give them a job and give them the tools,'' Wick said.

A lot of the athletes in Saturday's games have no physical limitations. They just need the encouragement and training, he said.

Some 500 Special Olympic athletes from 12 area teams, ranging from San Diego to Ventura, took part in the games, which consisted of track events, swimming, tennis, gymnastics, bowling and softball competitions at facilities around the Antelope Valley.

More than 100 volunteers from the Antelope Valley Kiwanis Club and local churches helped make the occasion possible. Donations throughout the year supply the organization with medals, uniforms, food and facility use.

The result of the donations of money and time are evident to all who volunteer and take part in Special Olympics.

``Too many times they (the handicapped) are written off and aren't allowed to show what they can do - this is what Special Olympics are all about,'' said Wick.

CAPTION(S):

3 Photos

Photo: (1--color) Jared Brundage, left, carries the Spci al Olympics torch and Greg Oakes runs with the torch he used in the relay for the Atlanta Games.

(2--color) Athletes from 12 Southland teams parade Saturday at the Special Olympics at Antelope Valley College.

(3--color) Kathy Browning shares this year's event with her daughters, clockwise from left, Myrtle, 11, Dawn, 10, and Amy, 8.

Jeff Goldwater/Daily News
COPYRIGHT 1996 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 16, 1996
Words:516
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