SEATTLE — Dawn Grooms, the lone athlete from Richmond County competing in the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, has won two gold medals in her events this week.
Grooms, 49, won gold in the bocce singles competition on Tuesday and gold in bocce doubles on Wednesday, alongside her partner Stephanie Silver of Watauga County, and sixth place in the bocce team competition.
Grooms is competing at the national level for the first time after competing locally and at the state level since she was in high school. North Carolina sent 60 athletes and unified partners (those without disabilities who train and compete with the athletes) to the games, which began on July 1.
North Carolina athletes had netted 14 gold medals as of Thursday night, though competitions continue through Friday night, according to Vice President of Communications for Special Olympics North Carolina Rachel McQuiston.
The Richmond County community chipped in to support Grooms and her family’s trip to Seattle through donations, and the VFW Post 4203 and Ol’ Skool Tribe motorcycle club held a benefit ride to raise money as well. The VFW and the motorcycle club contributed $332 of the total $2,050 the community raised through Groom’s page on the FirstGiving website, which surpassed their original goal of $2,018.
“Participating in Special Olympics NC has allowed me to meet many new friends,” Grooms wrote in her introduction on FirstGiving. “It has shown me that I can be successful in many areas of my life.”
Athletes had personal trading cards made before they left from Raleigh and watched a “good luck” message from Gov. Roy Cooper, Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers, college basketball coaches Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski.
Sgt. Jennifer Osborn from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and Robin Callaway, a Special Olympics athlete from Mecklenburg County, assisted in escorting The Flame of Hope into Husky Stadium for the opening ceremony.
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]