Local student-athletes get in Special Olympics spirit

Josh Brown has a knack for throwing tennis balls.

The North Myrtle Beach High School student and recently crowned prom king was one of around 300 athletes who participated Wednesday in the Special Olympics Spring Games, having competed now for roughly a decade.

“I like finishing the events, the crowd cheering me on and getting a medal,” said the 18-year-old, who also competed in the 100 yard dash and even sang the national anthem before festivities began.

The games were held at the Myrtle Beach Pelicans ballpark, where athletes could compete in track and field events along with tennis ball and softball throwing as well as long jump and standing jump events.

Athletes also had the chance to earn a spot as a competitor in the Special Olympics South Carolina Summer Games held in Columbia in May, and other activities and games for kids were also available.

Athletes making their way into the ballpark were cheered as they made their entrance and Star Wars stormtroopers marched up and down the bases along with an assortment of different characters who were on hand to chat.

“I like spending time with my friends and I love dancing,”said 15-year-old Conway High student and third-time competitor Sta’Chiana Asbury. “It feels awesome [being out here.]”

In the weeks leading up to the event, local law enforcement agencies raised money in support of the games as part of the S.C. Law Enforcement Torch Run.

Local authorities Wednesday dashed from Myrtle Beach Fire Department’s training facility to the stadium in order to light the cauldron with the Flame of Hope and kick off the Spring Games.

Departments across the state have raised around $970,000 this year as part of the torch run with local law enforcement chipping in roughly $120,000, said investigator Marcus Rhodes with the Horry County Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s just the entire law enforcement community that works hard to make a difference for our athletes,”he said.

Rhodes, who’s also on the Horry County Special Olympics committee, said he’s been involved in the games since 1993.

What brings him back annually, he said, is “the heart and joy and spirit of the Special Olympics athlete.”

“There’s something pure and fantastic about the human soul as it’s expressed in our athletes as they work, as they train, as they compete and as they live,”he said. “They teach us so much about our better selves and it just pulls me back every year.”

Photo by Viraj Nail/myhorrynews

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