(Above)Justin Pace draws back and gets ready to toss the shot put during one of his attempts during Fridayâ€™s Special Olylmpics games. (Below)Brian Henderson is all smiles as he received his gold medal in the softball throw. Chris Dean / LTN Photo
Cameron Carroll gets ready to spring from the line during one of his long jump attempts. Chris Dean / LTN Photo
Robert Ache won third place for both the 25 meter race and bean bag toss. Chris Dean / LTN Photo
Athletes and volunteers look on at Kenny â€œKojackâ€ Hamright places the Special Olympic torch in its holder. Chris Dean / LTN Photo
Hundreds of people wearing yellow shirts converged on Lincolnton High School stadium for a true community event Friday.
The school was the site of the Lincoln County Special Olympics Spring Games.
â€œIt takes a lot of time and a lot of planning to be successful,â€ said Jeff Leonhardt, one of the organizers. â€œIt takes a lot of organization â€¦ itâ€™s a community event.â€
Athletes from many Lincoln County Schools and adult agencies participated in a number of events, including running, walking, softball and tennis ball throws, shot put and relay events.
When not participating in an event, the athletes could partake in other fun activities such as face painting and a balloon man. A deejay and Conrad the Crawdad were also on hand to make sure there was never a dull moment.
Before the competition could get underway, however, the athletes and their buddies had to march into the stadium.
In true Olympic spirit, each group made their way around the track receiving cheers of encouragement from the crowd.
â€œIâ€™m proud to say that every year Iâ€™ve seen the crowd grow more and more,â€ said master of ceremonies Tim Biggerstaff from WLON-AM.
After each participant had made his or her way to the competition, the torch was carried around the stadium and lit by Lincolnton favorite Kenny â€œKojakâ€ Hamright.
â€œToday we celebrate the diversity of students, whatever your ability,â€ said Lincolnton High School principal Tony Worley.
Each event was capped off by the athletes receiving awards at the awards podium. Whether in first or last, all the participants were winners in the spirit of the Special Olympics Oath, spoken by athlete Joselyn Shuford at the start of the day.
â€œLet me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.â€
by Mary Williams