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Walchak named into the Special Olympic Hall of Fame

Spring brings many events to Colleton County and one of those important events is the Special Olympics. The event will be held Wednesday, April 5th, with opening ceremonies kicking off at 9:30 am when local law enforcement agencies run a lit torch inside the Colleton Middle School track and light the opening torch that kicks off the event. This is the third year as Coordinator for Rebecca Hooker, but her passion for the athletes began when she was a student volunteer in high school. Events are scheduled to begin at 10:00 am and will end around 1:00 pm with a variety of events, which are open to the public to attend. “The athletes love having people along the track or at the events cheering them on,” Hooker said. At this year’s event, Hooker is expecting over 300 athletes to participate in the event with age ranges from three years old to adults. “Athletes from Colleton County Board of Disabilities and Special Needs, Hampton County Board of Disabilities and Special Needs, and all Colleton County schools will attend,” Hooker said. Each year an ambassador over the games is chosen and this year is Tylesha Phoenix. Colleton County also created a local “Hall of Fame” three years ago for local athletes. This year inductee is Bobby Walchak, 37 years old, who has been competing in the Special Olympics since he was 8 years old. Bobby has not been on this journey alone, his longtime Coach, Mr.Franklin Crosby, has been with him for over 30 years. Crosby was able to tell Walchak that this year he was being added to the Hall of Fame which brought tears of joy to Walchak’s eyes as he pulled a photo from his lunch box of him at the Special Olympics as a child. “I love to run,” Walchak said, “I’m a distant runner.” Crosby has been helping with the Special Olympics his whole life and is proud to say he has three generations, his daughter and granddaughter who also volunteer at the games. “I love Special Olympics,” Crosby said, “it gives people a chance who wouldn’t be able to compete in high school sports the opportunity to compete.” The best part about the event for Crosby is, “It’s like their day and it makes your heart full to see their joy from receiving a ribbon or a metal.” Crosby has coached several athletes over the year and works full time as a Job Coach for the Colleton County Board of Disabilities and Special Needs. Crosby once held the same title Coordinator Rebecca Hooker held but has since passed the torch. Hooker said, “The amount of community support is unbelievable.” Again this event is open to the public and everyone is invited to attend. “This event gives the community an opportunity to show our classmates and friends with special needs that we care about them,” Hooker said.”

Amye Stivender (218 Posts)