These Olympics are special

Published 12:13 pm Friday, April 23, 2010

Lifestyles & Features

With a beaming smile, Kelly Hutsell stepped forward to receive a ribbon she’d won during Thursday’s Beaufort/Hyde Special Olympics track-and-field program.
Hutsell was one of about 150 athletes expected to take part in the event, said Phyllis Hendrickson, coordinator for Beaufort/Hyde Special Olympics.
Hendrickson has been a Special Olympics volunteer for 20 years, and joining her on the planning committee this year were Meredith Woolard, liaison for Beaufort County Schools; Sandra Buckman, executive director of The ARC of Beaufort County; and Special Olympics parent Kathy Newman.
The group began planning for the event last fall, Hendrickson said.
“A lot of hours go into planning this,” she said. “The athletes look forward to this all year, and we’re grateful for all the volunteers who make this possible.”
Woolard said many of the volunteers on hand Thursday are Beaufort County Schools students.
“The kids from the surrounding high schools really enjoy it,” she said. “They come out of the woodwork for this.”
Among those volunteers was Beth Batchelor of Washington High School. This was her third year volunteering with the Special Olympics.
“My freshman year, I was a buddy, so I got paired up with a kid with special needs and got to follow them around and share their experience,” she said. “This gives us the chance to see all the athletes compete and see all the joy they have, whether they win first place or last place.”
Those assembled for the festivities were welcomed by Russell Holloman, principal at Washington High School, host site of the Olympics. Natalie Kaplan of WITN-TV was master of ceremonies. The national anthem was played by the Washington High School band and the U.S. flag was presented by the WHS JROTC color guard.
Levi Cichorz of Old Ford Church of Christ led gave the invocation, and Nell Cherry recited the Special Olympics oath, which states, “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
DARE officer Ben Correa of the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office led the torch run, accompanied by Roshawn Moore, Antione O’Neal, Brittany Lee and Gary Newman.
Newman, of Washington, will be one of 50 Special Olympians representing North Carolina in the national games to be held in Nebraska in July.
“That’s a real honor for him to get to go, and a real honor for Beaufort County,” Hendrickson said.
Four athletes from Thursday’s competition are slated to compete May 1 in Ahoskie in the district competition. They will then be joined by four aquatics athletes and four powerlifters for the state games, to be held in Raleigh June 4-5, Hendrickson added.
Special Olympics competitions are open to athletes 8 years old or older, with no age cap on participants.
“We’ve had one gentleman who was 70, but he didn’t come this year,” Hendrickson.
For more information about becoming a part of the Beaufort/Hyde Special Olympics, either as an athlete or volunteer, contact Hendrickson at 252-945-0880.
Results of Thursday’s games will be published once they are made available by event organizers.