This year the event returned to Richmond Senior High School Friday.
The welcome for the games was given by County Manager Rick Sago and the torch run was done by Major James Clemmons. As the torch was walked around the track, the Richmond Senior Color Guard led the parade of athletes.
“This is my first time volunteering for the spring games,” said Jennifer Blake, who did participate in the fall Special Olympics in East Rockingham last October.
“There are 71 participants,” said Haven Harrelson, who handled the participant sign in. Harrelson works with the Exceptional Children’s Department of Richmond County Schools. “We have also went bowling and held events at Rockingham Park.”
Though there were only 71 participants, there are actually 160 that are eligible to participate in all the games.
“This is our track and field event,” said Cathy Hoggard Special Olympics coordinator for Richmond County. They have also introduced soccer skills, equestrian and botchi ball. Many of the people participated in events prior to Saturday’s track and field event.
Some of the athletes will also participate in the games on the state level, on June 4-6 in Raleigh.
Hoggard started with Special Olympics back in the spring of 1997 when she got a committee together and volunteers and revived the games from what it had been in past years.
“The program was inactive for several years,” said Hoggard. “We started with a 100 participants and we have grown.”
Leslie, 10, of Monroe Avenue Elementary, likes participating in the games. “I won a gold medal, for the tennis softball throw.” Leslie threw the ball 25 feet.
The lunches for the groups were separated by age an the games ended at 1 p.m. with closing comments from Hoggard and a balloon release.
Participating groups included Washington Street, Roberdel Children’s Center, West Rockingham, Richmond Senior High, Richmond Adult Group Home, Mallard Lane, Sandhills Manor, McLaurin Center, Monroe Avenue and Monarch.
Hollie Nivens can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 19 or by e-mailing at firstname.lastname@example.org.