Union County Special Olympics 2019: Athletes Inspire a Community

Athletes competing at the 2019 Union County Special Olympics at Cuthbertson High School

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Athletes from across Union County convened at Cuthbertson High School last week for the 2019 Union County Special Olympics.

A resounding joy filled the air as the opening ceremonies began on Wednesday morning.  Fans, family and friends bustled with excitement as they packed in to the Cavaliers’ stadium to support their favorite athletes. The happiness that the Special Olympics brought to everyone in attendance couldn’t hope to be matched by any other event.

Hunter King adds another first place medal to his collection. Rumor has it that his brother Caleb King of Monroe, NC might be jealous. (Photo: D. M. Wallace)

Officer Jim Kennedy, Cuthbertson’s school resource officer, looked on with pride as Union County Sheriff’s Deputies handed out ribbons and medals to athletes as they stepped up to the podium after their events.

Samiya Jordan and her friends smiling after a gold medal win at the 2019 Union County Special Olympics (Photo: D.M. Wallace)

Officer Kennedy called the occasion one of the best and most important events that Union County Public Schools has to offer.  He said that the Union County Special Olympics were fantastic and that such an impactful event wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the wonderful staff of teachers, parents and volunteers.

Some of the dedicated student-buddies from CATA at the 2019 Union County Special Olympics (Photo: D. M. Wallace)

Officer Kennedy credits and thanks Sheriff’s Deputy Tiffany Hill with coordinating the department’s involvement with the Special Olympics ceremonies.

Family members of athletes emphasized the importance of the role that the Special Olympics played in the lives of athletes and families alike.

Jayden Davis and dad Rickey Davis pose with Jayden’s medals at the 2019 Union County Special Olympics (Photo: D. M. Wallace)

Rickey Davis, father of athlete Jayden Davis, was emphatically grateful for the positive impact that the Special Olympics has made.  Davis said that his son Jayden finds a place here where he can really be comfortable, something that he said can be sometimes difficult from day to day.  That comfort, Davis said, is why he and Jayden will return each year to the Union County Special Olympics.

As athletes crossed the finish line, some of the loudest cheers in the crowd came from UCPS teachers and staff that were there to support their students.

Students from Walter Bickett Elementary School at Cuthbertson High for the Union County Special Olympics

Walter Bickett Elementary School Nurse, Ilene Jackowitz, said that athletes, spectators and volunteers felt on top of the world here at the games and that she was excited for the athletes because they deserved these opportunities so much.

Brandon Johnson smiling moments before his 50 meter victory (Photo: D.M. Wallace)

Mrs. Lloyd, a Teacher from Walter Bickett Elementary School, said that the go get it attitudes of students like Brandon Johnson combined with the opportunity to go out and compete without focusing on results are things that make the Special Olympics what it is.  She said that the athletes go out and give it their all and support each other along the way, making for a wonderful event every year.

Athletes pose with their medals at the Union County Special Olympics (Photo: D.M. Wallace)

The Union County Special Olympics and Special Olympics North Carolina are groups that benefit thousands each year in our community.  They rely on dedicated volunteers, athletes and coaches to organize, plan and implement important events that provide immeasurable benefit to families across North Carolina.

Students from Benton Heights Elementary at the 2019 Union County Special Olympics (Photo: D.M. Wallace)

To find out how you can make a difference by supporting, fundraising or volunteering with the Special Olympics, please visit SONC.net or contact a UCPS teacher in your community.

Athletes line up to race at the 2019 Union County Special Olympics (Photo: D.M. Wallace)
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