Special Olympics event returns post-COVID

Published 8:30 am Wednesday, March 29, 2023

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Monday will be a memorable day for around 130 area Special Olympic athletes as they gather to compete for the first time in four years at the Southside High School track.

Participants were gearing up to compete in several track and field-related events in March of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizers to cancel the event at the last minute.

Monday is the first chance to get back on the track since then.

“It will be great for our athletes to get the chance to see fellow competitors that they only see at these events, local coordinator Kathy Newman said. “We had a bocce competition in Charlotte in the fall and they all really enjoyed seeing and competing against their friends.”

The athletes can start competing when they are eight and there is no upper age limit. The Southside event will include the 25-yard dash, the softball throw, long jump and 50-yard walk for the more physically limited competitors and the 100 yard run, shot put and mini-javelin throw for the more advanced.

The event has been held at Washington High School in previous years, but the Pam Pack track is currently being rebuilt. Hence the move to Southside.

“Principal (Justin) Holt invited us and we are glad to have a spot,” Newman said. “The Washington principal has already said he wants us back next year. The football team and cheerleaders will help with our Olympic Town carnival and it will be great to see everyone out here again. These events are a lot of work and we are all volunteers, but it’s also very dear to our hearts. It’s their day to shine and we are very excited be part of a very special day.”