Special Olympics North Carolina is still thriving, going strong in what will be its 50th year. Using the power of sports to improve to the lives of those with intellectual disabilities, they continue to do so even here in Sampson County.
The Special Olympics have been in the county for some time, headed currently by Charlotte Byrd in her fifth year. And their next event is right around the corner. The annual Spring Games is scheduled for April 19.
Participants in the Spring Games this year will compete in track and field events, in three different categories. These include standing long jump, softball throw and the 50-meter dash. To get a scope of how big this event will be, there are a total of 200 athletes taking part with approximately 300 volunteers.
Corporations have also come together to aid in this positive effort. United Way has provided the budget for the Spring Games and meals are being donated by Smithfield Hog Production Division’s South Central Region.
Not only is this a big local event for Sampson County, Clinton High School will be providing the venue and Sampson Middle School’s principal Greg Dirks and teacher assistant, Ashley Walton, are monitoring the games.
For those further interested, a key public awareness and fundraising event, the 2018 Plane Pull to benefit Special Olympics North Carolina, will follow after the Spring Games. While not in Sampson County, it is still part of the Special Olympics in the state. The event takes place at the UPS tarmac at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport on April 28.
The Plane Pull has its share of sponsors as well, including Credit Suisse, American Airlines, Trans States Airlines, HMS Host, RDU International Airport, Food Lion and UPS.
The plane pull will consist of five-person teams that will challenge their strength against other teams to see which can pull a 30,000-pound regional jet 25 feet. Each team will also compete against one another in race for the fastest time.