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The Williams YMCA of Avery County

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED TO HELP WITH THE SPLASH DROWNING PREVENTION PROGRAM - to volunteer contact Matthew Hitechew. View the SPLASH Schedule

Special Olympics

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Special Olympics is a year-round sports training and competition program for children and adults ages 8 and up with intellectual disabilities. All participation for athletes is FREE and our local program is supported entirely by volunteers and local donations.  Every aspect of Special Olympics programming in Avery County is impacted by volunteer support with direct contributions of time, monetary donations, or both.  We currently have over 70 athletes participating in:

  • Track and Field,
  • Swimming,
  • Alpine Skiing,
  • Softball Skills,
  • Basketball Skills,
  • Bowling,
  • Bocce, and
  • Golf. 

Our goal is to grow and expand these programs as well as offering new opportunities in other sports.  We are always seeking volunteers and coaches to allow us to expand our program offerings.  All training is provided free of charge.

2017 Events:

  • November:  SONC Fall Tournament, location TBD (bocce, golf, basketball)

Avery Special Olympians Excel in June North Carolina Games

(Taken from the Avery Journal Time - by BARB HOLDCROFT)

After a noon departure from the Williams YMCA on June 2, Avery County Special Olympics was of on yet another adventure, traveling to our state capital to participate in the 2017 Special Olympics North Carolina Summer Games. From the glamour of the opening ceremonies to tough competition in the pool and on the softball ield, this year’s games will be one for the memory book.
The entire delegation was welcomed into the newly renovated Reynolds Coliseum on the N.C. State campus — all 1,900 athletes and nearly 1,200 volunteers. This was especially signiicant since it’s an air-conditioned building, which was greatly appreciated in the midst of humid Raleigh. Each county of athletes marched into the arena amidst cheers, song and merriment. Speakers, music, and our National Anthem preceded the Oath of Athletes before the Torch was lit and the Games were oficially
declared open.
On Saturday, June 3, the backstroke events were held at the Triangle Aquatics Center in Cary. In the 25-yard event, Patty Topper and Sarah Gatewood won gold medals in their divisions, while Neal Graham brought home a silver. Greg Gurley placed fifth in his division. The group also swam in the 4 x 25-yard relay preliminaries to qualify for Sunday competition. On Sunday, June 4, the results of the 25-yard freestyle races saw Graham, Topper, Gatewood and Gurley each earn gold medals in their divisions. The relay team then proceeded to win a silver in the 4 x 25-yard inal competition. Also, in a new event for Avery County Special Olympics, Gatewood competed in the 50-yard freestyle and won a silver medal. Coach Lucy Corning kept all the swimmers on time for their events with the help of volunteer Kathryn Gatewood and Head of Delegation Holly Magid. Special thanks to volunteer Carrie Shafer and to the Williams YMCA and staf for providing the pool for training opportunities.
The preliminary softball rounds were held so that all athletes could compete in their correct division against those with similar abilities. In the softball skills competition, athletes are scored on fielding, throwing and hitting (for distance), and timed in base running. The “medal events” were held on the morning of Sunday, June 4, with the Diamond Demons competing in seven of the different divisions, ranging from Divisions one to 15.  In Division one, Richard Parker earned the silver medal, while division two saw Zach Cable take the gold and teammate Mickey Daniels earn the silver. Division three was won by “rookie” Zach Pritchard. In Division eight, Laken Benield earned the gold while Charlie Varner brought home a fourth-place inish. Shirley Shatzer took a fourth in Division 11, while Margaret Neal took the gold in Division 12. Katie Holdcroft brought home the bronze in Division 13. The softball events all took place at Lions Park in Raleigh, which is able to support events on three separate ields. This kept the coaches and volunteers jumping, moving athletes and equipment around to the individual events, since each county delegation is to provide helmets, bats and gloves for their team.
Special thanks go to Mike and Tina Minter, Brian Pritchard and Natalie Buchanan, who assisted in this endeavor. A vote of thanks also goes to the Avery Parks and Recreation Department for the use of the Field at Rock Gym, and to volunteers Parker and Tripp Minter for weeks of assistance during practice. Special thanks also goes to Joe Magid and Brian Pritchard for volunteering as our “transportation specialists.” Getting 13 diferent athletes to two venues in diferent parts of town can be daunting. It took some of the pressure of coaches knowing that we could count on our drivers to get us there without having to also navigate the intricacies of the Raleigh area traic and construction. Special Olympics Avery County welcomes all individuals who might consider participating in Special Olympics sports. At present, we will begin to prepare for the Fall Tournament which will involve athletes in basketball skills, bocce and golf.
Interested parties should email Holly Magid at holly(at)ymcaavery.org or Barb Holdcroft at barbholdcroft(at)bex.net. Finally, since all expenses are covered for the athletes, contributions to the Avery County Special Olympics are always welcome.

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