Special Olympics North Carolina announces 2017 Athlete Council and Executive Officers

The 2017 Athlete CouncilRaleigh, NC – Members of the Special Olympics North Carolina Athlete Council met on January 20-22 to elect executive committee officers for 2017, according to SONC President/CEO Keith L. Fishburne.

Zach Commander of Pasquotank County is continuing into his second year serving as the committee’s Chair. Ruth Hochstrasser of Onslow County was elected to serve as Vice Chair. Brian Goins of Davidson County was elected to serve as Secretary. Pam Richards of Mecklenburg County was elected to serve as Sergeant at Arms. Roger Johnson of Guilford County will serve as immediate past chairman.

The 2017 Special Olympics NC Athlete Council is made up of 16 registered Special Olympics athletes from throughout the state who give advice and guidance about topics related to Special Olympics to the SONC President/CEO. The council meets quarterly and attends major state-level SONC events to volunteer.    

Council members also explore and participate in various leadership roles at Special Olympics fundraisers and competitions. Council members have participated in the Over the Edge fundraiser, the Plane Pull for Special Olympics NC and various Polar Plunges. They have served as emcees during event opening ceremonies, presented awards, planned the organization’s annual leadership conferences, distributed meals and reported on competition events for the program’s official YouTube channel.

Athlete Council members serve two-year terms.

Members of the Special Olympics NC Athlete Council include:

Zach Commander, Pasquotank County (Chair)

Ruth Hochstrasser, Onslow County (Vice Chair)

Brian Goins, Davidson County (Secretary)

Pam Richards, Mecklenburg County (Sergeant at Arms)

Roger Johnson, Guilford/Greensboro (Immediate Past Chair)


David Caldwell, Wilkes County 

Ethan Cassity, Wilkes County

Stacey Critcher, Watauga County 

Julie Frazier, Forsyth County 

Romas Gabbrielli, Wake County 

John Gray, Mecklenburg County 

Natalie Robins, New Hanover County 

Conner Stipe, Cabarrus County 

Anne Tane, Orange County

Jennifer Wardlow, Forsyth County 

Christopher West, Davidson County 


About Special Olympics North Carolina

Special Olympics North Carolina offers year-round sports training and competition for nearly 40,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. These athletes inspire greatness through their success and provide motivation to the thousands of coaches, sports officials, local program committee members and event organizers involved in Special Olympics statewide.  SONC offers Olympic-type competition in 19 sports on local and state levels as well as health and wellness initiatives to improve the health status and increase access to community health resources for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Youth become agents of change through Unified Champion Schools, an education and sports based program created by Special Olympics to build an inclusive environment among youth with and without intellectual disabilities as well as empower them to become youth leaders and create change in their community. Visit Special Olympics North Carolina at Engage with us on;, and

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