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Rutherford Rollers are winners at State's Special Olympics

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Nine Special Olympic Rutherford County Athletes have returned home after participating in the Special Olympic North Carolina Summer Games June 3-5 in Raleigh.

Rutherford County's Olympians were the Rutherford Rollers bowling team. Athletes were Dakota Collins, Brendan Thompson, Billy Callahan, Yanessa Ortiz, Amber Dysart, Michael Cobb, Kato Porter and Steven Camp.

Allison Kennedy, Special Olympics Rutherford County Co-Coordinator, was among the chaperones, parents and other Special Olympic cheerleaders.

"The athletes were excited to return to summer games since they have not been held since the summer of 2019 due to the pandemic," Kennedy said.

"Some of the highlights besides competing were the drum-line performance at the Opening Ceremony and the dance on Saturday night. Tea Crawford was excited that she was able to lead the other gymnasts in her division in a warm-up routine before competing," Kennedy said.

Athletes and chaperones attended the opening ceremony at NC State's Reynolds Coliseum, where the Special Olympics Torch was lit by Law Enforcement. The athletes also got to take part in a dance and Olympic Town festival on Saturday night on campus.

The Rutherford Rollers competed in doubles for different divisions (there were six total divisions for doubles). Saturday was the preliminary round and Sunday was the final competition. The teams bowled three games each on Saturday and Sunday.

Billy Callahan led the Special Olympics athlete oath for the athletes at Saturday's competition. His parents, Billy and Kathy Callahan, were also among those attending the event.

The teams are listed below along with their competitors from Saturday and Sunday. Coach Robin Parsons led the team.


Amber Dysart and Kato Porter received a 4th Place Ribbon in Division 2. They competed against Gaston Knockouts, Caswell Center Strikers and the Gaston Bowlers.

Dakota Collins and Yanessa Ortiz won the Silver in Division 3 and competed against Caswell Center Fireballs, Wayne USA Striking Beauties and the Harnett Team 1.

Billy Callahan and Brendan Thompson received the Bronze Award in Division 5 competing against the Gaston Strikers and the New Hanover Sea Horses.

Michael Cobb and Steven Camp received the Gold in Division 6. They competed against the Lincoln Haybales, Harnett Team 2 and The Lake Norman Dyno-Myte.

Tea Crawford competed in Women's Artistic Gymnast division level 2, for ages 12-15. She was competing against 3 Wake County athletes. Her coach is Tom Crawford.

Team earned: the Gold in uneven bars, Silver in floor routine, Silver in balance beam, Bronze in vault and Silver in all-around.

Jeffery Littlejohn, who attended with Kato, said, "I'm so proud of these athletes. They did so well. We had a great time and I'm looking forward to the next games. Congratulations."

Jeffery said Kato had a great time meeting others, dancing as always, and competing in blowing.

"He's looking forward to the next Special Olympics,"Jeffery said.

As for himself, Jeffery said it "was something to see all the excitement on the athletes faces. It was just great to be there. It was an experience I'll never forget."

For more information and updates visit the groups Facebook page "Special Olympics Rutherford County"

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