Participating in a Special Olympics basketball event last month in Abilene, Denise Dority was nervous at first.

But Dority — a member of the Janie Clements Industries team called the JCI Krew — overcame her nervousness and earned a second-place medal in the skills portion of the event.

“I concentrated and I believed in myself,” Dority said.

The 10-member Krew, considering of Janie Clements Industries (JCI) clients, attended the Special Olympics event with their coaches on Feb. 23 at Abilene Christian University.

Krew members won three first-place medals in skills events, two second-place medals in skills and a 14th place in skills. The Krew also fielded a team for a three-on-three tournament and placed second.

Several representatives of the Krew team gathered in a room at JCI with Donna Evans, chief of day habilitation services, Amber Lewis, chief of Intellectual Developmental Disabilities service coordination and Morgan Ashmore, public relations coordinator for the Center for Life Resources, which operates JCI.

“It was our first experience,” Evans said. “We’re really looking forward to next year because now we kind of know what to expect.”

The Krew team members talked about their experience at the event and explained what they did to prepare.

“Practice,” several said in unison.

Practice included meeting up at a city park basketball court on Sundays.

“It was fun getting out there and interacting with people, pushing yourself and doing more than what you think you can do, not giving up,” Krew member and JCI client Princeton Miller said.

More than 100 Special Olympian athletes ranging in age from school age to elderly participated in the event.

In addition to winning medals, other benefits included getting to travel out of town, seeing friends they hadn’t seen in awhile, making new friends and experiencing lunch on a college campus.

“I enjoyed watching them excel and come together as a group and support each other,” Lewis said. “They all watched each other play, they all watched each other participate in their skilled events and cheered each other on, and they all showed how appreciative they were to be able to have that experience.”

“It’s been a really rewarding experience. It’s our first time to be coaches and to get to experience it all.”   

  A Special Olympics track event will be held April 6 at Gordon Wood Stadium.