ELIZABETHTOWN — On the first full day of spring, and under warm blue skies, more than 100 athletes converged on the Elizabethtown Middle School athletic fields to compete in the annual Spring Games of the Bladen County Special Olympics.
Local Coordinator Angie Wayne gave the welcoming remarks to open the day-long event, several law enforcement officers completed the torch run and lit the flame, and emcee Brenda Storms presented the Parade of Athletes — each school represented by colorful shirts and a homemade banner that depicted the Spring Games’ theme: “Let Your Light Shine.”
Frankie Artiaga of East Bladen gave the “athlete’s oath” and Mallory Davis of West Bladen gave the “official’s oath, but once Storms shouted to “Let the Games begin,” everyone scattered to the respective competitions that included bocce, softball toss, standing long jump, running long jump, 50-meter dash, 50-meter walk, 100-meter dash, 100-meter walk and an area set of for special developmental skills.
Gwen Thompson, a committee member for Bladen County Special Olympics, said the day could not have dawned any better.
“We’re so thankful for the sunshine, the athletes and all the people who came out to help,” she said.
Andy Sumner, the field services director for the East Region of Special Olympics North Carolina, agreed.
“It’s great to have the participation of all the schools for this,” he said. “I’ve definitely seen a steady improvement in the Bladen County program over the past few years.
All of the competitions were divided into specific age groups, and the top three finishers of each age group were awarded medals. In addition, a group of judges — made up of Greg Martin, Niki Dennis and Mickey Davis — awarded prizes to the top three school banners: Elizabethtown Primary took first, Bladenboro Primary was second and West Bladen High finished third.