Appling County Special Olympic Athletes participated in the Winter Games in Atlanta, January 21-22. The team departed on Friday, January 21, and returned on Sunday, January 23. There were sixteen athletes, three unified partners, seventeen volunteers and coaches. The athletes competed in one of three sports. Nine athletes participated in the singles bowling competition.
These athletes included: Micah Stancil, Dane Johnson, Robert Bryant, Star Perez, Bobby Rainey, Curtis Walker, Katlyn Garner, Charity Wilkerson, and Addison Norman.
Two athletes participated in individual basketball skills. These athletes included: Dylan Shipes and Jonathan Leggett. The athletes (bowling and basketball skills) earned metals that ranged from first place to fourth place against other athletes around the state of Georgia.
Five athletes and three high school volunteers participated in a Unified basketball team. This team (athletes and volunteers) practiced twice a week for the past several months. The athletes included: Kathleen Estrada, Mathew King, Gabby Diaz, Danny Dasher, and Johnny Nettles. The unified team volunteers include: Keegan Shaver, Katlin Bruce, and Kirk Vanadore. The team received a bronze metal (third place). Special thanks to the dedication of the teams coaches Pauletta Vann and Ava Grant.
The volunteers that attended the games included: Lou Dicker, D.J. Everett (nurse), Johnny Nettles (police officer), Donald Murray, Kim Stancil, Mike Sancil, Danny Waters, Rhonda Waters, Hank Callahan, Sara Futch (local Special Olympic Coordinator), Ava Grant, Belinda Smith, Alisha Williams (bus driver), Tucker Hoff, Hunter Hoff, Maggie Stancil, and Maria Maldonda.
Thanks to the athletes, coaches, volunteers, and a supportive community, the trip was a success!
This was the first time my family and I have ever attended the state games and I was extremely impressed with the community support that was given to these special athletes! It would be awesome if as a very small, tight knit community, everyone could get more involved with Special Olympics, to give these kids more opportunities to show what they are "able" to do, rather than what they are "unable" to do. Thanks to Sara and the rest of the staff who encourage these students to do their best, no matter what.