Special Olympics North Carolina (SONC) presented eight 2022 state-level awards honoring outstanding individuals who support Special Olympics in North Carolina, according to Keith L. Fishburne, President/CEO of Special Olympics North Carolina.
- Athlete of the Year: Amanda Faggart, Cabarrus County
- Frank Starling Coach of the Year: Raymond Henderson, Pitt County
- Family of the Year: Wooten Family, Lincoln County
- Coordinator of the Year: Brent Harpe, Pitt County
- Billy Quick Leadership Award: Pam Richards, Mecklenburg County
- Volunteer of the Year: Craig Calcasola, Mecklenburg County
- Jim Long Commitment to Excellence: Jim Bullard, Iredell County
- Outstanding Organization: Durham Academy Upper School, Durham County
The 2022 SONC Athlete of the Year Award was presented to Amanda Faggart of Cabarrus County. Competing in bowling, swimming and tennis with Special Olympics, Faggart also participates in an adaptive tennis program to hone her skills. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, SONC launched its Partner Up Power Up program in 2020, an eight-week Unified Sports® training and fitness plan that can be completed from home, without access to internet. Unified Sports programs bring individuals with and without intellectual disabilities together through sports, helping to create communities of acceptance and respect. Through Partner Up Power Up, Faggart has improved her eating habits and level of activity. Chairperson for the Special Olympics Cabarrus County Athlete Council, Faggart is a dedicated leader among Special Olympics athletes.
The 2022 SONC Coach of the Year Award was presented to Raymond Henderson of Pitt County. Led by Henderson as head coach, the Special Olympics Pitt County basketball team represented Team SONC at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando, Florida, June 5-12. The team raised over $25,000 to attend the Games and returned to Greenville with a silver medal. In preparation for the Games, Henderson mentored athletes on the importance of sportsmanship and healthy living. Henderson is also involved with flag football and softball programming through Special Olympics Pitt County. Henderson is employed by the Autism Society of North Carolina and runs an art studio. Through both ventures, and through Special Olympics, his involvement has greatly impacted his community.
The 2022 SONC Family of the Year Award was presented to the Wooten family of Lincoln County. Special Olympics Lincoln County athlete Zach has been participating for many years in basketball, bocce and bowling. His family members volunteer in different capacities year-round, including his mother Judy, who serves as a bocce and bowling coach. For the past 28 years, she has served as the family and volunteer coordinator on Special Olympics Lincoln County’s local Program committee.
The 2022 SONC Coordinator of the Year was presented to Brent Harpe of Pitt County. Harpe is employed by the Recreation and Parks Department of Greenville, North Carolina, as a specialized recreation supervisor, where he also serves in the role of local program coordinator for Special Olympics Pitt County, a role he assumed in 2019. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Harpe supported local program fundraising in his position, raising over $16,000 in 2021. Alongside head coach Raymond Henderson, Harpe coached the Special Olympics Pitt County basketball team representing Team SONC at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando, Florida, June 5-12. Harpe introduced a Special Olympics golf program through Brook Valley Country Club in Greenville and has worked to support Special Olympics Unified Sports® soccer programming through a partnership with East Carolina University Campus Recreation and Wellness. Leveraging community partnerships, Harpe has amplified the impact of Special Olympics in Pitt County.
The 2022 Billy Quick Leadership Award was presented posthumously to Pam Richards of Mecklenburg County. Richards passed away on Oct. 11, 2022, at the age of 64. Her involvement with SONC began in 2007 competing in several sports. As an athlete leader, Richards served on the SONC Athlete Council and as a Global Messenger, advocating for inclusion as a trained spokesperson for Special Olympics. She was also a member of the Self-Advocates of Mecklenburg County, a group that advocates for rights of those with intellectual disabilities at the city, county and state levels.
The 2022 SONC Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Craig Calcasola of Mecklenburg County, who has been an integral part of SONC since joining his local Program in 2017. Calcasola’s daughter Olivia is a three-sport athlete, competing in cheerleading, gymnastics and soccer with Special Olympics Mecklenburg County. As owner of the Ballantyne location of Cabo Fish Taco in Charlotte, Calcasola sponsored the Special Olympics Mecklenburg County and Cabo Fish Taco 5K Taco Dash. The event, planned for 2020, was postponed to November 2021, due to the pandemic. In May 2022, they hosted another race, raising $15,000 with over 350 runners in support of Special Olympics Mecklenburg County. Calcasola serves on the Sport Development Team for golf and assisted in planning the first-ever SONC Golf Tour.
The 2022 SONC Jim Long Commitment to Excellence Award was presented to Jim Bullard of Iredell County. In 1985, Bullard merged his involvement with his local Civitan International chapter and SONC. Since, he has served as a volunteer at local, state, national and international levels. Attending the Special Olympics World Games in 1991, Bullard was inspired to become more involved in SONC leadership efforts. In 2002, he began serving his first of three six-year terms on the SONC Board of Directors. Concluding his final tenure in 2022, Bullard will continue to support the organization as a dedicated volunteer.
The 2022 SONC Outstanding Organization Award was presented to the Durham Academy Upper School of Durham County. For over 35 years, the school has hosted Special Olympics Durham County’s Spring Games, an effort organized by teacher Laci McDonald. Throughout the pandemic, they continued to fundraise in support of Special Olympics, hosting two virtual walks. Students are active in volunteering with Special Olympics Durham County during the school year.
About Special Olympics North Carolina
Since 1968, the organization has used the transformative power of sports to improve the lives of children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Nearly 40,000 athletes in North Carolina inspire thousands of coaches, sports officials, local program committee members and event organizers involved in Special Olympics statewide. SONC offers year-round training and competition in 20 Olympic-type 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 www.specialolympicsnc.com. Engage with us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.