SO recognitions

Pictured are Special Olympics supporters Natalie Buchanan, Tina Minter, Mike Minter, Lucy Corning and Richard Corning, who received plaques for their continued program support in Avery County.

AVERY COUNTY — Athletes from Special Olympics Avery County gathered for pizza and information about Spring sports on Sunday, March 15, at Riverwalk Pizza in Newland. It was also a time to recognize longtime coaches for their continued volunteering and support throughout many years.

Wooden plaques with the Special Olympics ribbon and medal were presented to Natalie Buchanan, Lucy & Richard Corning, and Tina and Mike Minter. This group on intrepid volunteers have all received Special Olympics coach training in their respective sports and continue to keep their certification current. Their expertise in aquatics, golf, softball skills, and bocce allow our athletes to compete at the State level.

On Tuesday, March 17, all Special Olympics programs in the state were advised that every practice and competition involving Special Olympics athletes is now canceled. This directive will be in place until May 31, 2020, which means there will be no Summer Games competition, previously scheduled for May 29 to 31. The spring sports that athletes from Avery County competed in were swimming and softball skills.

In the past, Avery athletes numbered about a dozen participants at the Summer Games. About 3,000 athletes from across the state have traditionally met in the Raleigh area at the end of May for competition.

Meanwhile, not only are local practices canceled but also the Special Olympics Highland Games, which was to be held in early May at Mitchell County High School, were canceled. Additionally, the Spring Splash swim meet hosted by McDowell County in early May will not be held. In the past, this had provided an opportunity for all our Avery Aquanauts to practice in a competition atmosphere prior to the Summer Games.

Perhaps in June nationwide adjustments will allow our athletes some practice time with another county program. Both the Diamond Demons and the Aquanauts would appreciate the activity.

For more information about Special Olympics in Avery County, contact coordinator Barb Holdcroft at (828) 733-8416 or

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