Area athletes meet for Special Olympics
Published 8:42 pm Thursday, April 30, 2015
A group of athletes gathered for the Beaufort Hyde Special Olympics Spring Games, bringing area residents and organizations out to volunteer for the event.
Two hundred athletes from Beaufort and Hyde counties met at Washington High School’s Wagner Stadium to compete in several track and field events, testing their strength, agility, speed and will. Among the events were running long jump, running and walking races, tennis ball throw, softball throw, wheelchair race and Olympic Town, an area of festival games where athletes had the chance to have fun and earn prizes, said local coordinator Sara Boykin-Benish.
Boykin-Benish said athletes from schools, group homes and other places around the two counties were joined by 300 area residents and organizations that came out to volunteer. Some volunteers served as “buddies” to athletes, guiding them from event to event safely and having fun with them, a positive experience for all, Boykin-Benish said.
“It was very positive and rewarding for all volunteers of all ages to meet some of our athletes and get to know them personally,” Boykin-Benish said. “They are allowed to be buddies with athletes, spend the day with them and make sure they get to and from stations safely.”
Boykin-Benish said the volunteer-based program brings the community together to make the event possible. Members of the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, N.C. State Highway Patrol, Civitan on the Pamlico, Beaufort County ARC and others donated their time to help the event run smoothly and maximize the experience for participating athletes, while other businesses like Little Caesars, Dominos, Coca Cola and Pizza Inn donated food and materials for lunch, Boykin-Benish said.
“My experience is that it’s our program — it’s all volunteer based,” Boykin-Benish said. “I don’t get paid monetarily, but I get paid from the love they show me. It puts a positive impression in my heart. It was amazing. It’s so tender and touching and beautiful. I have such a great appreciation for all who were involved — the sponsorship, the donations and the support from the community and everyone else involved.”
Boykin-Benish said one local school held a huge sendoff for its athletes, complete with music playing, posters and banners waving and other students and faculty cheering as they left to compete.
In addition to events like the Spring Games, the chapter has different team, in which athletes compete in sports like bowling, snow skiing, swimming, track and field, power lifting and the organization hopes to soon form basketball, softball and sailing teams, Boykin-Benish said. This summer, the aquatics and power lifting teams will compete at the state level at the Special Olympics Summer Games, slated for May 29-31.