Hundreds Compete In Special Olympics Spring Games

Clayton High student Kirby Roberson participates in the long jump at the Special Olympics of North Carolina Spring Games on April 12. 

SMITHFIELD – Hundreds of students from Johnston County Public Schools competed in the Special Olympics of North Carolina Spring Games on Thursday and Friday, April 11th and 12th at Smithfield-Selma High.

The Smithfield-Selma High athletic fields were transformed into an Olympic Village to host the games for the athletes. Elementary aged students competed on Thursday, while middle and high school aged students competed on Friday.

Students from Johnston County Public Schools walk in the opening ceremony parade. Photographed (from left) are Princeton High student Lydia Pearson, Smithfield-Selma High student Ben Weaver, Smithfield-Selma High student Quinton Brady, and Princeton High student Jasmine Hernandez. 

“To see this type of event come together is magical. It warms your heart to see everyone come together for the students of Johnston County Public Schools,” said JCPS Director of Exceptional Children Programs Ashley Radford.

Students from across the district spent the past several months preparing for the competitions. The games were made up of different track and field competitions including the long jump, softball throw, 25-meter walk and run, 50-meter walk and run, and the 100-meter walk and run.

Volunteers from St. Ann’s Catholic Church show their support for the athletes at the Special Olympics of North Carolina Spring Games. Photographed (from left) are Maria Sosa, Michelle Vega, and Kamila Aleman. 

“The Special Olympics is such an important day in the lives of these students,” said West Smithfield Elementary teacher Sarah Crane. “These kids are excited about this event. They don’t typically get to participate in school sports. This is a day that they get to shine doing something that they love.”

Johnston County Public Schools assisted the Special Olympics of North Carolina in organizing and hosting the Spring Games. Crane said teams began preparing for the event in August 2018.

Corinth Holders High student Trinity Jeffery (left) celebrates with her classmate Morgan Wells (right) after winning a gold medal at the Special Olympics of North Carolina Spring Games. 

“It takes a lot to put on such a huge event like this,” said Crane. “All of the hours and hard work are totally worth it to be able to see these students smile, compete in the games, and earn their medals.”

Hundreds of JCPS students and staff also participated in the games by volunteering their time. Volunteers helped with timing events, distributing medals and ribbons, face painting, and registering and assisting athletes.

Selma Middle student James Britt (right) walks in the opening ceremony parade with his teachers Christine Wood (left) and Melissa Evans (center). 

“There is so much collaboration that goes into planning for our Spring Games,” said Radford. “From our student volunteers, our teacher volunteers, and Special Olympics of North Carolina, everyone worked together to pull off this event.”