Nearly 100 Special Olympics athletes from Richmond County gathered at Raider Stadium on Wednesday morning for a day of fun in the sun.
Young people of all ages, with exceptional needs, took to the field for running, jumping and throwing competitions — though everyone walked away a winner.
“Our athletes tend to do everything we offer, and participate in all the events,” said Cathy Hoggard, the coordinator for Special Olympics in Richmond County.
Volunteers and family members joined forces to help organize the day of activities. Richmond Senior High School students volunteered as “buddies” for athletes, and helped out as well.
“I worked with many of these kids when I was a substitute teacher at Cordova School,” said Vernon McKinnon, a Special Olympics committee member, and volunteer. “I decided to keep doing this because I love the kids. Events like this are great because you can just see the excitement and joy on their faces.”
The Vice President of Field Services and Program Innovations, A’Lisa Tello, traveled to the event from Wilmington for a surprise visit.
“This event is one of the things that is a showcase for what we do all year,” said Tello. “This is the time that competitors get to show off what they’ve learned.”
Tello started with the organization as a volunteer 25 years ago.
“I fell in love with Special Olympics because it makes a difference in the lives of all who are involved,” she said. “This organization changes lives, and helps people have a greater appreciation for the simple things in life.”
To learn more about Special Olympics of Richmond County, contact Cathy Hoggard at 910-895-5946.
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.