Special Olympics Alabama holds opening ceremony (PHOTO GALLERY)Published 1:02am Saturday, May 17, 2014
Athletes from age 8 to 69 marched into the Trojan Arena for the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics Alabama State Games Friday night.
For the eighth year in a row, most of the events will be held at Troy University. More than 1100 athletes will take part in this year’s games. They are competing for one of 143 spots in the Alabama delegation at the 2014 Special Olympics USA National Games in New Jersey. But most of all, they will just have fun, said Meredith Welch, who heads the Pike County delegation with her husband, Linn.
“Alabama will be the second largest delegation, behind the huge state of Texas,” said Richard Hanan, chairman of the Special Olympics Board of Directors.
He credited the large number of volunteers for making it possible and thanked them for their service.
Hanan said he planned to attend the competitions and remain in town for all related events. He ended his comments with a few words for the athletes. “Do well, be safe, have fun.”
Athlete of the Year Lane Barnes of Decatur lit the torch (with a little help from Chief Ed Taylor of the Decatur Police Department, marking the start of the games.
The ceremony ended with the Special Olympics Oath and a pep talk from Chandra Rigby, coach of Lady Trojan basketball. She told the athletes to get a good night’s sleep and come out Saturday ready to win.
Pike County Special Olympians will compete in various track and field events and also in swimming. Both events will start at 9 a.m. today.
Team Pike County members are Beth Bardling, Muhammed Blair, Marissa Brunje, Louis Chamber, Johnny Corley, Tysheen Eaddy, Heath Flemming, Sairah Garner, Emily Johnson, Brandon Rhodes, David Spivey, Hannah Stuckey, Ryan Taylor and Joey Welch. Team coaches are Shane Tatum, swimming, and Matt Qualls, Elizabeth LoCascio and Ethan and Kelley Thierfelder, track.
Welch said Team Pike County was ready for the games.
“They are very excited,” she said. “Most of them have been here with me this afternoon and they were extremely excited.”