Special Olympics games set for Monday

Published 5:30 pm Thursday, April 21, 2016

Local volunteers and athletes are geared up for Monday’s Special Olympics Beaufort/Hyde games, and all that’s needed are beautiful weather and a stadium full of cheering fans.

“Just to have a group of people cheering for the athletes is a huge uplift,” said Eric Sedlacek, local coordinator for Special Olympics Beaufort/Hyde. “I’m sure for these athletes it’s a positive uplift.”

Monday’s festivities at Washington High School will kick off with a torch run and opening ceremony, and games will begin at 10 a.m., according to Sedlacek. The competitions are expected to run through early afternoon. Dave Jordan of WITN-TV 7 has agreed to serve as this year’s master of ceremonies.

The local competitions are a build up to this year’s state Special Olympics, scheduled for June 3-5 on the campus of North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

Monday’s events will include special activities for younger special needs children who are not yet old enough to officially participate in Special Olympics competitions. Lunch will be provided for all athletes and volunteers courtesy of The Arc of Beaufort County, Edward Christian Church and Coca-Cola.

The games come at a time of year when local Special Olympics volunteers are seeking to raise funds for and awareness of all the organization has to offer. The inaugural Rabbit Race held Easter weekend brought in over $1,100.

“I’m very pleased with the turnout,” Sedlacek said of the race. “We had nearly 100 participants.”

Likewise, four conceal/carry classes conducted as fundraising projects were well received by the community.

“We’re grateful for the great turnout for the classes, and to Coca-Cola and Pizza Inn of Washington for providing lunch for everyone,” said Sara Benish, a Special Olympics board member and volunteer.

Sponsors have also stepped up by offering donations that will be used to support Special Olympics throughout the year and pay the way for athletes competing in the state games. Those sponsors’ names are printed on this year’s shirts worn by volunteers the day of the local games.

Even as athletes prepare for Monday’s competitions, there are still a few roles to be filled to further enhance the local program. For instance, Special Olympics would like to recruit a volunteer power lifting coach, according to Sedlacek.

In other Special Olympics news, the local chapter is teaming up with the The Bridge 98.3 radio to promote Sunday’s appearance by Aquanetta Gordan at the Turnage Theatre in Washington.