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Vance County residents shine in NC Special Olympics

The Daily Dispatch - 6/12/2019

Jun. 12--RALEIGH -- The 2019 Special Olympics North Carolina Summer Games concluded June 2 in Raleigh, Cary, Morrisville and Holly Springs, which ended a weekend of competition for more than 1,500 athletes from across the state in athletics, bowling, gymnastics, powerlifting, softball, swimming and volleyball.

Over 60 counties and organizations participated in the weekend's activities, with Vance County being represented by two dozen residents who all took part in the volleyball individual skills competition.

"Everyone did great," Special Olympics Vance County local coordinator Crystal Allen said. "All of the athletes enjoyed participating, and they all had a good time coming in and dancing during the opening ceremony. They had a blast."

Since 1968, Special Olympics North Carolina has used the transformative power of sports to improve the lives of children and adults with intellectual disabilities. The organization has grown to include nearly 40,000 athletes, all of which continue to inspire thousands of coaches, sports officials, local program committee members and event organizers involved in Special Olympics statewide.

SONC offers year-round training and competition in 19 Olympic-type sports on local and state levels as well as health and wellness initiatives to improve the health status and increase access to community health resources for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

The 2019 edition of the Summer Games kicked off with the opening ceremony May 31, which highlighted the 20th anniversary of the 1999 Special Olympics World Games hosted in North Carolina, at PNC Arena in Raleigh.

Gov. Roy Cooper attended the ceremony to congratulate athletes on their accomplishment of competing in the Summer Games.

Nearly 2,000 volunteers, under the leadership of a volunteer Games Management Team, were recruited to serve as scorekeepers, timers and various other roles to make the Games a reality for the athletes.

To ensure fair competition, the athletes were placed in competition divisions based on age, gender and ability level. Gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded to the top three finishers in each division, followed by fourth through eighth place ribbons.

The Special Olympics Vance County volleyball team found success during the Summer Games under the direction of coaches David Pulley Sr. and Kristy Walker, who had been training athletes at the Aycock Recreation Center for the event since March 26.

Special Olympics Vance County ended up taking home five gold medals in the volleyball skills competition, which belonged to Greg Baier, David Eudy, Shawn Hester, Chris Morton and Wayne Hartwell Pruitt.

David Pulley Jr. and Lawrence Hawkins each took home a silver medal, while the other five athletes that represented Vance County each received a bronze medal for their hard work and determination during the weekend.

Allen praised all 12 athletes who represented Vance County during the Summer Games and commended Pulley and Walker for their commitment to making Special Olympics Vance County successful and inclusive.

Basketball and bocce ball are up next on the agenda for Allen and Special Olympics Vance County, but she expects training for both sports to go smoothly and looks forward to watching the athletes continue to develop.

"I love being able to provide opportunities to these athletes so they can participate in sports," Allen said. "I love watching them enjoy themselves and learning, and I would like to see this program continue to grow.

Allen said that she is always looking for volunteers to help out with Special Olympics Vance County, and is encouraging anyone interested in the program to reach out to her at 252-431-6091 or at


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