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Athletes participate in Special Olympics at Central
Special olympics
Athletes, wearing red, and volunteers, in green, stand at a metal podium at the spring games for Forsyth County Special Olympics on Friday at Forsyth Central High School. - photo by Kelly Whitmire

The Winter Olympics recently came and went, but an annual Olympic event is as popular as ever in Forsyth County. 

On Friday morning, the spring games for Special Olympics Forsyth County were held at Forsyth Central High School, where more than 200 athletes with special needs took part in a variety of games.

“We have about [230] athletes in third through eighth grade, and they’re here to compete in various competitions and just celebrate Special Olympics,” said Susan Darlington with Special Olympics Forsyth County.

Darlington said athletes competed in 50-meter dash, obstacle course, soccer ball kick and softball throw events. 

“They go around and they compete and they receive ribbons for individual events, and then they get an overall ribbon for awards,” she said. “So, they’re running around the field with tons of ribbons and celebrating their achievement.” 

Before the events got started, an opening ceremony was held featuring a parade, torch run, pledge of allegiance, oath and national anthem — all led by athletes.

Christie Ingram’s daughter, Carly, was a participant in the events and helped sing the national anthem. Ingram said there had been a lot of excitement before the event.

“My daughter looks forward to this day every year. She hopped right out of bed. Usually, on school mornings it’s difficult,” Ingram said. “She just loves being out here with the community, being encouraged by the community, participating in the events.”

Added Ingram: “She’s been practicing the national anthem for months.” 

Ingram said Special Olympics had a lot of benefits for the athletes.

“It increases their confidence when you have hundreds of people cheering them as they walk around the track and just showing them that they can do it,” she said.

Suzanne Hauck, with the Forsyth County Women’s Club, was among the more than 100 volunteers helping out on Friday.

“It’s such an uplifting event, and I’d never seen so many smiles and so many children so appreciative of the event,” she said.

She also applauded those who took time to make it happen.

“I was very impressed by the involvement of the whole community,” Hauck said. “It was extremely well-organized, and I must compliment the group involved in organizing the event.”

Darlington was thrilled by the support the event gets from the community.

“The support from the community for Special Olympics Forsyth has been incredible,” she said.  “I can’t thank the community enough. We have over 150 volunteers that run this one event.”