The games were afoot Friday at North Surry High School as the Special Olympics took over Charles D. Atkins stadium.
The parade of Olympians, their “buddies,” and volunteers entered the stadium before North Surry’s Alfredo Bedolla brought in the torch flanked by Sheriff Steve C. Hiatt and a phalanx of deputies.
On the field age groups moved from station to station and took part in foot races, walk races, wheelchair races, broad jump, soft ball toss, and free throw shooting to name only a few. For every athlete held tight by the grip of competition, there tended to be an equal number nearby making their own games and finding fun wherever it was to be found.
In every corner there was action aplenty and a sense of joy to the occasion that brought kids and adults out for spirited but good-natured competition.
At each activity, location, or age group there was a contagious joy to the event that was not sullied by cloudy skies. There was “the thrill of victory,” what was missing from these games was “the agony of defeat.” It has no place amongst these Olympians who were winners already, but some took home additional hardware at days end, nonetheless.
Commissioner Mark Marion was on hand to root on the athletes. After the games he lingered by a Mount Airy Rescue Squad vehicle as an Olympian was lifted into the cab – to his delight, and that of those nearby. For the next several minutes a banshee’s wail of sirens and horn blasts emanated from the rescue truck as the Olympian took time to delight in his good fortune. Meanwhile inside the stadium Surry County Rescue workers were lifting another athlete into one of their off-road rescue vehicles while his mother asked him not to press any buttons; she was unsuccessful.
On hand were sponsors from local businesses and North Surry High students who were the athlete’s “buddies,” often more than one buddy was accompanying an athlete around the field for safety and encouragement. During some of the foot races, buddies were seen running alongside and encouraging their partners right to the finish line.
Wesley Wright said Friday from the shade under the bleachers that his child was participating in the day’s events. “She has been looking forward to this for months.”
For more than 50 years the Special Olympics has promoted the transformative power of sports to instill confidence, improve health, and inspire a sense of competition. They strive to create a better world by fostering the acceptance and inclusion of all people.
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