The Special Olympics Barrow County (SOBC) Unified Soccer team had quite an exciting day in the rain Saturday, Nov. 23, when they attended Atlanta United’s first ever special-needs soccer event, called Unified Celebration.

Barrow County co-director and head coach Susan Mullis was contacted by Atlanta United in July about bringing a team together to celebrate the love of soccer and with the message of Special Olympics.

“When I received the email about being a part of this event, I was blown away!” Mullis said. “We have a large soccer community here in Barrow County and our team, Iron Horse, has been competing off and on for nearly 10 years. This was a wonderful thing Atlanta United did to bring us all together.”

Along with Unified teams from Cobb County, North Fulton and Gwinnett, 15 Unified teams competed in 10-minute matches across six fields for three hours non-stop, in the rain.

“We weren’t going to let a little rain slow us down!” said team captain Brady Marbut. “It’s my job to keep everyone going and we never stopped!”

Iron Horse took a total of 25 athletes and 13 Unified partners, who play alongside and assist their team. One of the Unified partners, Avery Patchin of Winder-Barrow High school, said, “I love working with and playing soccer with our athletes. They are fun to hang out and crack jokes with and it’s awesome how when we mess up we are all still smiling and moving on.”

The mission of Special Olympics Georgia is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for all children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in the sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community, according to a news release.

Special Olympics Barrow County strives to bring these opportunities to the community and is always looking for volunteers to help do so.

For more information about SOBC, email Mullis at susan.mullis@barrow.k12.ga.us or check out its Facebook page.

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