2018-05-05 / Features

Athletes compete in local Special Olympics

PHOTOS AND STORY BY BILL WILLCOX
COURIER-TIMES STAFF WRITER


Runners compete in a close race. Runners compete in a close race. The sun shone brightly and temperatures were mild for the Person County Special Olympics on Wednesday at the Person High School stadium.

The opening ceremony began with athletes walking around the track, led by the Roxboro Police Department Honor Guard, before listening to an invocation and the singing of the national anthem by the Person High School Chorus. Then, Jessica Ferguson ran the track carrying the traditional Olympic torch.

Local Program Coordinator Kay Rudd smiled as she took in the scene.

“It is just a good day,” she said. “We have had great weather. The volunteers are good. Everything is going very well.”

After the conclusion of the opening ceremonies, athletes spread out around the stadium to take part in events including the 50-meter dash, 100-meter dash, running long jump, standing broad jump, softball throw, tennis ball throw and various wheelchair events. This year included a new event, the 4x100 relay.


The Roxboro Police Department honor guard leads the opening ceremony parade of athletes at the Special Olympics on Wednesday morning at the Person High School stadium. The Roxboro Police Department honor guard leads the opening ceremony parade of athletes at the Special Olympics on Wednesday morning at the Person High School stadium. “We have more athletes this year than we have had in the past,” Rudd said. “I have 62 registered athletes, probably over 100 volunteers from the different schools – Person High School National Honor Society, Junior Southern Middle School National Junior Honor Society (and) Southern Middle School Men of Distinction.” The three groups volunteered with athletes and events.

Duke Energy donated all the lunch supplies.

The athletes represented four delegations: Stories Creek Elementary School, Southern Middle School, Person High School and Person Industries.

“Then I had four or five what are called independents who are not affiliated with any group but still come anyway,” Rudd said. “They are allowed to participate. There is no upper age limit on participation.”


Jessica Ferguson carries the Olympic torch. Jessica Ferguson carries the Olympic torch. Rudd said the Special Olympics experience benefits the participants in several ways.

“It’s physical activity for them,” she said. “It’s fellowship, it’s a fun day out in the sun. They look forward to it. They love getting medals and the awards and the ribbons. It’s just a fun day for everybody.”

There will be a small team that has been preselected to go to the state level competition. They include Marquis Bailey, Josh Harris and Jessica Ferguson, the same team that went last year and did very well, Rudd said.

Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Founded 50 years ago by Maria Shriver, it provides yearround training and competitions for 5.7 million athletes in 172 countries. Special Olympics competitions are held every day, all around the world – including local, national and regional competitions, adding up to more than 100,000 events a year.



An athlete sprints on the final stretch of the 4x100 meter relay. An athlete sprints on the final stretch of the 4x100 meter relay.

Special Olympics athletes stand with their medals on the podium. Special Olympics athletes stand with their medals on the podium.

An athlete competes in the running long jump. An athlete competes in the running long jump.

A contestant takes part in the softball throw. A contestant takes part in the softball throw.

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