Lee County Special Olympics to participate in national games
Opelika-Auburn News - 6/26/2018
Lee County Special Olympics volleyball player Denise Andreadis is excited. She, along with 19 additional athletes and coaches, soon will be headed to Seattle to represent Lee County in the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games.
"She's very excited," said Andreadis's father, Gus. "She's excited that they're going on a chartered flight, just for them. It's all she talks about."
Andreadis, 33, has been a member of the Lee County Special Olympics for many years. She has skated, played softball and more. She said that she is excited to go to Seattle with her teammates and hopes to win a gold medal.
"I hope we play our best," Andreadis said. "Volleyball is my favorite sport to play."
Members and teams from the Lee County Special Olympics have previously participated in the national games. Some are returning this year, while it's a first for others. The national games are held every four years and qualifying teams and athletes are invited to participate. This year, Lee County members from track and field, bowling, paddle boarding and volleyball will attend.
Lee County Special Olympics Director Elizabeth Kaufman said that the national Special Olympics is more than just a competition.
"It's really about making friends and socializing and continuing to gain skills, and also learn and grow and travel and experience the world," Kaufman said, adding that national games participants trade pins with one another from each state.
"That's a big thing, just to kind of socialize and get to know teams from other areas and network and collect their pins," she said.
Assistant volleyball coach Cynthia Caldwell began volunteering to coach about five years ago. She said she has a daughter with special needs and loves being around the athletes.
"It's good for my heart just to be a part of this," she said. "I love seeing how excited the athletes get during a time like this, when they get the opportunity to compete at nationals."
Caldwell added that she is excited to visit Seattle for the first time and to meet new people.
"But my excitement is mostly for them," she said of the athletes. "I'm more excited for them than I am for myself."
Gus Andreadis added that the Lee County Special Olympics is a big part of his daughter's life. He said it makes her have confidence and feel like a "regular kid."
"That's what we want them to feel like, regular kids," he said. "We don't want them to feel any different."
Full list of Lee County Special Olympics attendees at national games:
John Huling- Assistant Coach, Aquatics
Sherrell Caldwell - Athletics (Track and Field)
Porter Caldwell - Athletics (Track and Field)
LaDazah Finley - Athletics (Track and Field)
Brittnay Stewart - Athletics (Track and Field)
Robert Crouch ? Bowling
Ryan Molt - Coach, Paddle boarding
Larry Molt - Coach, Paddle boarding
Denise Andreadis - Volleyball
Jeffrey Barnes - Volleyball
Eric Cha - Volleyball
Cameron McNeil - Volleyball
Dillon Smith - Volleyball
Murphy Chambliss - Volleyball, Peer Partner
Sam Hicks - Volleyball, Peer Partner
Ben Putnam - Volleyball, Peer Partner
Victoria Sollie - Volleyball, Peer Partner
Cynthia Caldwell - Assistant Coach, Volleyball
Will Chappell - Assistant Coach, Volleyball
Dana Stewart - Head Coach, Volleyball