Special Olympian wins four medals

Published 9:13 am Sunday, August 8, 2010

Special to the Daily News

A new local sports hero has arrived.
Gary Newman represented Beaufort County in the 2010 Special Olympics National Games July 18-23 in Lincoln, Neb. Newman was one of 50 North Carolina athletes who participated in the games.
At the games, Newman won a gold medal in the 100-meter run. He won a silver medal in the long jump. He won two bronze medals, one for being a member of North Carolina’s third-place 4X100 relay team and one for coming in third in the 200-meter run.
Newman started competing in local Special Olympics athletic events 10 years ago. He began participating in North Carolina’s Special Olympics eight years ago. Newman qualified for this year’s national games based on his performance in last year’s state games.
Newman’s mother, Kathy Newman, helped raise money so her son could participate in the national games. She and other family members conducted a letter-writing campaign, asking local businesses for their support. After learning last fall that Newman had qualified to participate in the national games, the family began the fundraising campaign at the beginning of this year.
Kathy Newman said her son has grown immensely since he started competing in Special Olympics events.
“He didn’t used to talk this much. He used to be really quiet. This has really just brought him out. He has really blossomed and made a lot of friends through Special Olympics,” she said.
Newman, his coach, Bernie Prabucki, and four other Special Olympics athletes were flown to the games in a Cessna aircraft. The costs of fuel and professional pilots were paid for by local businesses.
Newman competed mainly in the track-and-field events at the games. To prepare for the national games, Newman ran on a track outside his house months beforehand. He ran short, quick sprints to increase his speed.
Some of Newman’s other athletic ventures have included team bowling and alpine skiing. He is expected to compete in the N.C. Special Olympic Winter Games in January. He will compete in other events at the Special Olympics Southeast Regional in February.
Is there a trip to the Special Olympics World Games in the future?
“We will see. It will take some time,” said a smiling Newman.
The host city for the national games promoted the events with media coverage and national celebrities. The opening ceremonies included appearances by Nebraska’s governor and other state officials. Tim Shriver, the CEO of the Special Olympics, also made a appearance. Shriver is the son of Eunice Shriver, the founder of the games.
When athletes were not competing, they were given free medical screenings and other medical and health-related information. Those services were a part of the Healthy Athletes Initiative. Some of the services included free eye exams and hearing aids.