ROCK HILL, S.C. -- The rain did not dampen spirits on the day thousands were to convene for Area 11's Special Olympics in Rock Hill. Overnight rain forced organizers to cancel the games for the third time in its 43 year history.
"We knew it was going to wreak havoc on the fields at Cherry Park. There were a lot of muddy puddles on the field because of the amount of rain. We really did not want our athletes to come out and take a chance. Our big thing was safety," says Director Kathy Covington.
1000 athletes registered to compete Friday. Just as many people volunteered for the event, featuring athletes from York Chester and Lancaster Counties.
While the game was canceled, other activities went on as planned.
Castle Heights Middle School athletes and former Olympians gathered at City Hall Friday afternoon to accept recognition from South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.
"Your work on encouraging everyone to realize their full potential—it’s an inspiration to us all," he said.
Students at Richard Drive Elementary School were also on hand to support the program. Students had been learning about the athletes and the Special Olympics.
"Special Olympics rocks," they said in unison.
Josh Myers, a Special Olympics ambassador and athlete said he felt like the "president" when the Senator handed him the American flag that had once flown over the state capitol.
Myers had medaled in Power-lifting and planned to compete in this year's games.
"Kinda disappointed, but hey, there is always next year. It's about having fun and trying your best, and making a lot of new friends," he said.
Theresa Boehme was hoping to bring home the gold again in Bocce ball, but she is content knowing she had the ultimate experience just last June. She won gold at the World Olympics in Athens Greece.
"Everybody was proud of me," she says.
Logically, the event cannot be rescheduled. Director Covington says there will still me plenty of events to keep athletes busy. The State Special Olympics is just three weeks away.