DOBSON — Wins and losses, pitch counts, rushing yards, three-pointers, you name the activity and Timmy Sawyers of Surry County can spill out a plethora of statistics surrounding any game he’s seen.
Sports are an enormous part of his life and yet it was only two years ago he got involved in Special Olympics. And after those two short years, Sawyers has received an honor coveted by many around the state.
Sawyers, a Dobson resident, was named the North Carolina Athlete of the Month in November, an honor Daniel White, director of the Surry County Parks and Recreation Department, says is richly deserved.
“He’s one of my stars,” White said. “I can’t roll down the street with him in the car for more than five feet without someone yelling ‘hey Timmy’.”
But the statewide honor didn’t come without struggle and help from a beloved family friend.
In 2011, Sawyers’ grandfather died and he went to live with his friend and neighbor, Wayne Edmonds, and his wife Jackie.
Edmonds had known Sawyers and his grandfather for years. They attended the same church and Sawyers was always attending local sporting events.
“I lived about a mile from him,” said Edmonds. “After every game no matter how long I stayed, Timmy would always be at my car waiting for a ride home. When his grandpa passed away he said to me, ‘I’m going to come live with you.’ He brought all his clothes to the funeral with him and came home with me afterwards. He’s been with us ever since.”
The Edmonds decided to raise Sawyers like they had raised their own three grown sons. There are house rules and chores, and the couple has taught him some important life skills as well. He has lost weight and learned about nutritious meal choices. He’s learned to use his math skills to count money and has his own bank account and bank card now. He’s working on learning to drive a golf cart around the farm.
And he’s gotten physically active through his work on the farm and his participation in Special Olympics basketball.
“He’s been more of a blessing to us then we have been to him,” said Edmonds. “I don’t know what I’d do without him. He’s just a great kid. And he’s never ever without a big smile on his face. He’s got a great work ethic and excellent manners. He’s a well rounded, bright kid. And I’m constantly amazed by him.”
And that smile is infectious, White said.
“He brings a smile to your face every time you see him,” he said. “Everyone just loves him.”
Sawyers is particularly good at shooting three-pointers, White said, noting he is always practicing the shot on the farm. Edmonds credits Special Olympics with teaching Timmy sportsmanship.
“He was in the habit of hollering and questioning the umps or refs,” said Edmonds. “He doesn’t do that anymore. And he understands you can’t always win. Now, win or lose, he always has an encouraging word for his teammates and opponents.”
But for White, the lessons learned are more life lessons.
“If we could only be as loved, and as loving, as he is,” he said.