• 75°

Going for gold: Athletes compete in Special Olympics

MOUNT ULLA — Samuel Cheek may be just 14 years old, but he’s already lived the dream of many young athletes. In front of packed stands, he’s run fast and hard and been met with near deafening cheers and applause.

Of course, similar cheers and applause were in ample supply Tuesday as nearly 350 Special Olympics athletes of all ages competed in track and field at West Rowan High School.

Samuel, a Southeast Middle School student, has been participating in Special Olympics for nine years. His father, Chase Cheek, said the enthusiastic atmosphere leads to great things for participants.

“I like to see them push themselves beyond what they thought they were capable of,” Cheek said. “You get them in front of all these cheering people, and they’ll do things they probably never dreamed of doing.”

For Samuel, cheers and good old-fashioned legwork meant the day started out with a win. He earned a second-place ribbon in his first event of the day, the 200-meter run.

It was a prize he collected arm-in-arm with his younger sister, 7-year-old Peyton, whom mom Ashley Cheek called his biggest fan.

“This is their day to be a superstar,” said Chase Cheek. “It’s a beautiful thing.”

Apart from the 200-meter run, other events Tuesday included a 100-meter run, 50-meter run and 50-meter walk, as well as long jump, softball throw and more.

West Rowan has hosted the Special Olympics for all but one of the past 15 years. In 2014, Carson High School played host.

According to coordinator Nancy Collins, West Rowan officials quickly requested the event back.

The Olympics has continued to grow in popularity and in offerings since its onset. For the past five years, organizers have included an “Olympic Village” offering refreshments, free samples and additional activities.

Popular extras in the village this year were the Woodleaf Civitan ice cream truck, the Patterson Farm cow train and the West Rowan FFA petting zoo.

But nothing dethroned the popularity of the day’s main events — and the resulting prize ribbons.

“I like winning,” said Special Olympics athlete Patrick Kelly when asked about his favorite part of the day.

Kelly, accompanied by Rebecca Sexton of the Salisbury Police Department, helped start the day by lighting the Olympic Flame. He came with Rowan Vocational Opportunities.

Alexis Abillar, a Catawba College senior who volunteered as an athletic buddy for the day, said she was particularly fond of watching the athletes reach and cross the finish line.

There is just something to be said about the atmosphere, the enthusiasm and the support, she said.

“It’s a super-good experience,” Abillar said. “You don’t have anything to lose by doing it. I would do it every year if I could.”

Comments

Crime

Man charged for stowing away on Norfolk Southern train, impeding railroad operations

Local

Group will protest treatment of Georgia woman during 2019 traffic stop

Crime

Man overdoses at Piedmont Correctional Institute

Crime

Sheriff’s Office: Two men escape from jail, found in bushes on Fulton Street

Ask Us

Ask Us: When will North Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue be resurfaced?

Local

Political Notebook: Rowan’s lawmakers pass 140 bills into the opposite chamber before deadline

Local

Police chief to present use of force policy; city manager to present 2021-22 budget

Crime

Blotter: Rockwell man arrested on charges of felony larceny, possession of stolen vehicle

Coronavirus

CDC director says mask turnaround based solely on science

News

Catawba College hosts three in-person commencement ceremonies

Local

With high case loads causing numerous staff departures, Child Protective Services seeks more positions

Education

Livingstone College graduates celebrate ‘crossing the finish line’ during commencement celebration

Coronavirus

Rowan sees 4 new COVID-19 deaths as mask mandate lifted, vaccines administered continue decline

Local

Spencer is latest town updating its development ordinance

Local

Salisbury native Kristy Woodson Harvey makes NY Times bestseller list

Local

Board of Commissioners will convene for third time in May

Business

Biz Roundup: Salisbury, Kannapolis among recipients of Region of Excellence Awards

Local

Cheerleading team competes at Disney

Education

Salisbury High to celebrate football, swimming champions with parade

High School

High school girls soccer: Isley, Webb lead all-county team

Local

Spencer awarded $10,000 to develop trails at Stanback Forest

Books

‘Tails and Tales’ coming to library this summer

Local

Public Records: March Deeds

Entertainment

Salisbury Symphony’s ‘Return to the Concert Hall’ available May 24-31