At the edge of the football field, Trinity awaits her first event–the wheelchair race. Her mom is at her side, and a smile has resonated on her face for at least 30 minutes and will most likely remain the rest of the day. This year in particular means a lot to Trinity as it is her first year participating as a high school athlete in Special Olympics. Although she loves competing in the events, she admits that her favorite part is being surrounded by her family and friends.
“It all makes me so happy — everything about Special Olympics. I love all the people there,” Trinity said. “My favorite part is just hanging out with my friends at this place where you can have so much fun.”
As Trinity prepares for her two events, the second being the softball throw, across the field, fellow athlete David gears up to take on his friends in the 50m dash. However, it is evident by his Atlanta Braves sweatshirt that the softball throw is truly his favorite event. He regularly attends local Tourist games with his family and is a very talented thrower himself, according to Progressive Education Program P.E. teacher Theresa Hudson. His mom accredits his love of baseball to his grandpa.
“David has been participating in Special Olympics since he was eight years old…Running clearly isn’t his favorite event. He really likes the softball throw, and he goes to lots of baseball games with his grandpa,” David’s mom said.
For Anissa, a senior this year in the program, this Olympics represented her last time participating as a high school athlete. However, she was finally able to fulfill her dream of participating in the torch run. Running by her side, fellow senior and buddy Lily Talley lead the torch run to the center of the field.
This year was also Talley’s last year as a high school student participating in Special Olympics. Throughout the years, she said that Special Olympics helps athletes with disabilities grow and enjoy themselves. Watching this process brings happiness to her.
“My favorite part would just be seeing the kids step out of their comfort zones and have a day devoted just to them,” Talley said. “It’s really special to connect with the kids and watch them grow in different ways. And to watch them be more comfortable around different people and adjust to different circumstances.”
Along with the athletes, volunteers from all across Buncombe County helped out– cheering on the athletes, timing races, working in the concession stand, and much more.
Volunteer Dr. Bob Garfield regularly attends Special Olympics at Roberson in memory of his disabled brother who recently passed away. As he watched the other athletes compete, he said he could feel his brother’s presence there with him.
“My brother passed away two years ago, but when I’m here (at Special Olympics), I feel like he’s still living. I can see his spirit here,” Garfield said. “I used to go watch him bowl, and when he would get a strike, he would think he won a gold medal or something. That kind of excitement in someone is pretty amazing.”
Special Olympics at Roberson has been a tradition for approximately thirty years and has created a lasting impression for years to come. As the athletes compete, they strive for first place medals, but many acknowledge that the real enjoyment comes from having the chance to compete alongside their friends and family.
“I just love it so much. Even if I win or not, I still have fun,” Trinity said. “It’s really not even all about winning; it’s about having fun.”
This page is in loving memory of three PEP students, Alexander Wallace, Alma Carrillo, and Tommie Brooks who passed away this school year.