WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - On Saturday, Special Olympics athletes, coaches, and families gathered at the UNC Wilmington Intramural field for a send-off ceremony followed by a flag football scrimmage with volunteers from the UNCW Police Department.
"They've always been so supportive of us, doing the torch runs and other things," said Cori Dixon, a flag football coach with the Special Olympics. "We thought it would just be a great send-off to partner with them. And it just shows our great love of UNCW and their support for us."
The UNCW Unified Flag Football team was selected to participate in the 2018 USA Games in Seattle, Washington July 1st – 7th, as part of Team North Carolina.
The festivities began with a torch run with athletes, volunteers, and Chief Donaldson. Next, the group gathered on the field for Dean Hardy to present the Laurel Wreath Award to Team NC members.
"It's awesome," said Dixon. "Our players and our unified partners started practicing last November, so it's been quite the process and seeing them learn plays, and it's a great accomplishment for them."
The team has two more practices and then they will pack their bags for the competition in Seattle.
"Special Olympics is not just these little events," said Dixon. "It runs year-round, 365. There's always a way that people can volunteer their time. The college students, the college staff have done a great service helping us."
Across the state, 61 athletes will compete in the national competition, with 10 local athletes playing on the flag football team.