May 26, 2012 | Updated: January 29, 2019

By Teresa Smith Newton

Returning gold and silver medalist Crystal Cabla is a small-town hero who knows it takes a village--or two or three--to make a champion.

Last year, Crystal won the 50-yard dash in her age group and second place in the softball throw. She hopes to retain her ranking in this year’s competition in both sports.

The Bartlett resident competes with the Taylor Co-op Comets. The Comets represents a cooperative special education program for several small school districts in Central Texas. The districts support the Special Olympics sports program and the athletes’ travel to games, says Katie Widmer, head of the Comets’ delegation.

Twelve athletes ages 14-22 are competing in track and field, but the co-op also provides them with opportunities to play bocce ball, basketball and bowling.

Janet Jackson­, Crystal’s coach, says the district-support travel helps many families attend Special Olympics games who might not otherwise.

“It’s good to see parental support,” Jackson adds.

Crystal­­­ came to the games with her parents, brother, sister, and grandmother, who cheered her on last year, too.

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