Special Olympians make the most of summer games

Published 11:02 pm Monday, May 19, 2014

For the eighth year in a row, Troy University held the state’s Special Olympics summer games.
This year’s games included more than 1,100 athletes from across Alabama. Fifteen athletes represented Team Pike County. Pike County finished with 20 gold medals, two silver, two bronze and a sixth-place ribbon.
“As always the athletes competed with all their heart and gave it their all,” said Meredith Welch, who heads the Pike County delegation with her husband, Linn. “Each athlete left the Olympics with rewards of their hard work along with wonderful new memories.”
Pike County athlete Louis Chamber competed in the running long jump and a race or two. “I did the long jump already. I’ve had fun,” he said Saturday, midway through his events. “Running is my favorite event.”
Casey Smith, 16, of Madison County had a great time running, too. “I was running fast,” he said. “Like a tornado, a rocket tornado.”
Saturday was 9-year-old Justus Vinson’s first appearance in the Special Olympics. The Lee County resident tried his hand at the softball throw, javelin throw and the long jump. Vinson’s mother, Philandra Humphries, was glad they came.
“This is beautiful,” she said. “It gives all the kids a chance to get exercise, learn sportsmanship and teamwork. I like the teamwork. It lets them know they’re a part of something greater.”
Team Pike County members were 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.

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