“Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
The Olympic Oath held special meaning for the thousands of athletes, buddies and spectators who gathered on the athletic fields of North Surry High School for the 34th Annual Local Spring Games 2012 of the Special Olympics of North Carolina on Friday.
Organizers say that around 300 athletes from the three school districts in the county were joined by those from Carolina Residential Services and the Peace Lily group for the event.
Opening ceremonies featured a warm welcome for all participants as the crowd rose to its feet and welcomed them to the competition.
Recognitions went out to the Special Olympic Athlete of the Year Neal Joyner, and Kim Inman was named volunteer of the year during the ceremonies opening this year’s Games.
During his address to the crowd, Dr. Ashley Hinson, superintendent of the county school system, said the spirit of the athletes permeated the entire group.
“Every soul here will be touched in one way or another today,” he said. “We’re going to be seeing a lot of high-fives, countless cheers and numerous fist pumps, all for a very talented group of athletes from Surry County.
“These athletes bring the true spirit of sport, friendship, perseverance and compassion to today’s events, and they, along with other Olympians across the country, will endeavor to promote human acceptance as they are changing the world, one attitude at a time.
“Now get ready, because the Games are about to begin,” he told the cheering crowd.
The events included something for all skill levels, from a wheelchair roll and a 25-meter walk to the traditional running long jump and 100-meter dash.
Prior to the kickoff of the Games, supporters including North Surry and Surry Central high schools, Food Lion and Phillips-Van Heusen presented checks totalling more than $13,500 to the local Special Olympics.
Event coordinator Daniel White, who helped organize the Games with Nicole Jordan and Chrystal Whitt, took a break from running around frantically to say that the athletes on the field are an inspiration to the public at large.
“The more I meet them and learn about them, the more I realize that if there were more people like these athletes in the world, we wouldn’t have to worry about a lot of the problems we have today,” he said as he glanced around the field.
White said he gets more out of the event than he gives.
“No matter what you do, the smiles of these athletes are infectious,” he said. “It warms my heart to see them so happy.”
He was quick to point out that the Special Olympics isn’t about who wins or loses.
“It’s all about the athletes themselves,” he said as a swarm of athletes passed by on their way to another event. “It’s about getting them out here and giving them an opportunity they might not have every day.”
White said that the organizing committee had met weekly for several months to pull off the event.
“One thing about it,” he said. “The Special Olympics in Surry County isn’t a one-day event. It’s year-round.”
But he said he didn’t want to be the center of attention.
“This isn’t about me,” he said emphatically. “It takes an army of volunteers and a committed group of organizers to make a day like this happen.”
With that, he was called on the radio and hurried across the field.
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.