This year’s Special Olympics t-shirts may have said it best: It’s so much more than athletics. Over 150 participants from around Stokes County poured into West Stokes football stadium on Thursday morning to be part of the annual 2016 Special Olympics games made up of 15 events.
Torch bearers and graduating seniors in the Exceptional Program Toula Tsanos and Brittany Hillgin were among the memorable procession of athletes, teachers, volunteers, and family members.
Principal Kevin Spainhour introduced West Stokes graduate, Kyle Hall who represents the N.C. House 91st District.
“I’ve come to many Special Olympics when I was here at West Stokes. This is truly a special event,” Hall said. “As a community it brings us together. It shows us today that we can’t let our setbacks overcome us. We should always reach for the best.”
As the youngest House member, Hall plans to bring a fresh perspective on school issues.
“I believe the cornerstone of our state lies in our classrooms and our teachers deserve as much respect as probably any profession out there. There’s no greater need for compassion than in our special education classrooms. We need to thank them for not only putting this event together but each and every day for the hard work they do.”
Although the morning started with a quick rain shower Stokes County Special Olympics organizer Pam Moore said they chose to keep the event scheduled as planned.
“We were a little panicked from about 7:30 to 8:30 because it was raining, but we decided to go ahead. The kids were pulling up and the volunteers were rolling in. I’m glad we did because it’s gone fabulous,” she said.
It was Moore’s goal to see each of the 151 participants end the day feeling like winners.
“We have a great group of volunteers and many that are students. I hope they realize people with disabilities are just as able as we are to accomplish and meet goals,” she said.
Local support and organizations that helped make the event successful were: Stokes County Schools and Board of Education, United Way of Stokes County, Ruritan Clubs of Chestnut Grove and Rock House, Brims Grove Baptist Church, Stokes EMS and Sherriff Department, Pepsi, Hwy 55 Restaurant, and Novant Health.
Amanda Dodson can be reached at 336-813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.