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Lauderdale County man headed to U.S. Special Olympics

Times Daily - 6/12/2018

FLORENCE - Joshua Pearson knows the feeling of being among the best in the state at what he does, but next month he'll get a taste of competition against the nation's top competitors in the U.S.Special Olympics.

Pearson, who attends Conner Center Day Program at Scope 310 in Florence, is headed to Seattle, Washington at the end of this month for the week-long games, July 1-6.

It's the first time Scope 310 has had an athlete invited to the U.S. games.

Pearson, 26, of Lexington, will compete in the shot put and the 100 meter dash.

His times in both events at last month's state games at Troy State University were impressive.

He threw the shot put 33 feet and he ran the 100 in 18 seconds. His performance in each earned him a gold medal and qualified him for the track and field events in Seattle.

Courtney Crider, a case manager at Scope 310, said Josh had a top score from the state games but more importantly "he has a winning attitude to go with his athleticism."

Officials with the U.S. games choose participants from each state based on top scores, participant attitude, and longevity in participation.

For Pearson, it's an opportunity of a lifetime.

"I've worked real hard and I think I'm going to do good," he said. "I've never been on a plane before so I'm a little nervous."

Pearson will travel to Seattle with his coach, Jim Barnes.

The opening ceremonies include the entire 102-member Alabama delegation in matching attire. The opening ceremony will also be streamed live by ESPN on ABC affiliates.

There will be 4,000 participating athletes.

Scope 310's intake coordinator, Mary Gates coordinates the Special Olympics activities for the clients and said Pearson has great natural ability, and is very teachable.

"We started out with him throwing a softball but he threw it way too far," Gates said, adding that the 8-pound shot put was a more comfortable fit. "And, of course he ran like lightning so we've been thrilled to see him getting better and better."

According to Gates, a top performance in Seattle could earn Pearson a spot in the World Special Olympics Games. Plans for the international games have not yet been announced.

Pearson said he'll take first steps first.

"I've got to get there on that plane, first," he said.

He said he also looks forward to meeting athletes from around the country.

"I like making new friends."


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