Gotta Run: Special Olympics and more

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 8, 2023

On Tuesday, our running club worked one of my favorite events. For years, we have timed the running events at Special Olympics and we have a certain group of volunteers who doesn’t want to miss this very special morning. Tuesday’s competition was for high school students and adults. Catawba College hosted the event and Rowan County Parks and Recreation organized it. Edward Hailey from county parks and rec is the event director.

On Thursday, April 20, elementary and middle school Special Olympics athletes will have their own morning of competition. Athletes at both venues are escorted by student buddies from county high schools and local colleges.

Each athlete gets to choose one track event and one field event to compete in. Also, athletes who aren’t able to compete in an event can register and complete developmental activities. Track events are the 100- and 50-meter runs along with the 50-meter walk and 25-meter wheelchair race. The field events on Tuesday included a softball throw and the mini javelin throw. At West Rowan, the younger athletes can compete in the standing and running long jumps.

Tuesday’s schedule included a welcoming ceremony complete with an Olympics torch, recognition of the schools and other organizations who brought athletes and an athlete’s prayer.

Hailey said, “This event provides athletes an opportunity to compete with their peers. It also provides a supportive and social event where buddies and athletes can interact in a positive way. On Tuesday, we had 110 athletes competing and on the 20th we should have around 120 including some less than 8 years old and elementary and middle school ages.”

In the past, many of the athletes trained for state competitions, but Hailey said, “We currently are not able to field a state athletics delegation. For competition at the state level, athletes must train for a minimum of eight weeks to be eligible. At present, we do not have a coach for athletes to run the required trainings.”

Hailey wanted to thank Catawba College and West Rowan High School for hosting the events. He also recognized The Civitan Club of Salisbury for assisting with ribbons for awards, the Salisbury Rowan Runners who help with the running events, the Rowan Salisbury Schools EC Department that is key to helping register and bringing student athletes, the Lions Clubs of both Cleveland and Salisbury and Rowan County Parks and Recreation staff. Special thanks go to the Special Olympics Rowan County Steering Committee who plans, coordinates and runs the event.

Both events are open to the public and are very well attended and often super competitive. For more information contact Hailey at

The next race ahead for Rowan County is a familiar one with a new name. The One In 5K and Fun Run is managed by the Family Crisis Council and the name replaces the Stomp Out Sexual Abuse 5K. The race will be held on April 22 at Knox Middle School. The 5K starts at 9 a.m. and the half-mile fun run will begin on the track at approximately 9:45 a.m. Lots of quality awards, refreshments and a commemorative T-shirt are included in registration fees. Go to to register or print off a form at

Race Director Christina Rary, also the FCC executive director, heads the One In 5K. She said, “Race proceeds will go to support Family Crisis Council of Rowan. April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. One in five women and one in 13 men experience sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community and other historically marginalized communities experience sexual assault at drastically higher rates. Run, walk or stroll with us to provide essential resources for survivors in our community!”

Since 1978, Family Crisis Council of Rowan has provided services such as emergency shelter, hospital accompaniment, court advocacy, case management and counseling to victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, incest and human trafficking in Rowan County.

For other events on the local running calendar, go to