Andrew Hunt takes a moment to look at his first place ribbon after completing a 50-meter walk at St. Pauls High School's Special Olympics Thursday. Staff photo by Lucy Newman
Austin Oxendine tosses a tennis ball out into the field during the Tennis Ball Toss event at St. Pauls High School Track and Field area Thursday. Staff photo by Lucy Newman
Camillia Bullard of Oxendine Elementary School in Maxton focuses her strength to throw a shot put as far as she can into the field during the Saint Pauls Special Olympics Thursday. Staff photo by Lucy Newman
Gladys Smith of Robeson County Community College Rowland Compensatory Education smiles as she waits for her name to be called to receive a ribbon for completing the Bocce event with her team RCC Mustangs Thursday at St. Pauls Special Olympics. Staff photo by Lucy Newman
Jaron Johnson of Tanglewood Elementary School knees a soccerball to volunteer Amanda Powell of St. Pauls High School during the Special Olympic's event Thursday. Staff photo by Lucy Newman
Kaitlyn Hodges of Fairmont Middle School giggles as she gets a boost from her mother Michelle, right, and racing partner B.J. Sanders toward the finish line at the Assisted Dash event Thursday. Staff photo by Lucy Newman
Students and teachers of Pembroke Elementary School cheer for their classmates participating in a variety of Track and Field events at St. Pauls High School Thursday. Staff photo by Lucy Newman
Shane Jones of Pembroke Middle School takes a giant leap at the Standing Long Jump event during the Special Olympics Thursday. Staff photo by Lucy Newman
ST. PAULS — More than 100 Special Olympics athletes gathered Thursday to compete in track-and-field style events at St. Pauls High School.
“Every child is a winner with Special Olympics,” said Sandra Evans, the Robeson County coordinator. “It brings together the school, the parents, and the community, all to support a special needs child.”
The day started with a parade around the track, with the athletes touting school banners, and then a lighting of the torch by volunteers. About 80 volunteers helped run the events.
All the participants were from Robeson County.
“I think it helps build their self-esteem as far as a sense of accomplishment,” said Johnny Hunt, the superintendent of the Public Schools of Robeson County. “It provides our students a chance to participate when they don’t normally get to.”
The Special Olympics strives to provide year-round sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. It was founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver in Washington D.C.