MYRTLE BEACH — Socastee High School’s athletic field was the site of the Horry County Special Olympics Spring Games Friday as about 480 athletes from ages 3 to 72 made their mark in various events, from relay races to softball throws.
“It was chilly, and we had a lot to do in a short amount of time, but it was an amazing day,” said Jennifer Ainsworth, a moderate special needs teacher at Socastee and coordinator for the event.
Ainsworth said the event has been held at the school for more than 10 years. While some athletes are able to travel to state games that are held in Columbia, she said the county’s track and field event is one everyone in the area can attend, and that all elementary, middle and high school special needs classes were invited to participate, as well as adult groups from Horry County Disabilities and Special Needs.
Opening ceremonies began at 10 a.m. for the event, which ran until 1:30 p.m. Justin Fletcher led the Pledge of Allegiance, while Savannah Thompson sang the National Anthem, and Christopher Sessions gave the Special Olympics oath. Horry County police officers led the torch run, accompanied by the school’s seniors, Ainsworth said.
More than 1,000 volunteers help with the games, including Socastee students, who served as buddies for the athletes. Ainsworth said the event was a Socastee effort, with the school’s Leadership Class handling throwing events, the track team and coaches working the track events and the Junior Civitans handling the awards.
“The support of the community this year was outstanding,” Ainsworth said. “The Socastee High School students and everyone out there showed what this is all about – respect and awareness – and everyone was out there for the athletes. Everyone’s heart was in it.”
Contact VICKI GROOMS at 443-2401 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_VickiGrooms.