To compete in any sport, the skills an athlete must master are wide-ranging. Without an understanding of proper technique, accuracy fails. Without proper training and conditioning, there is no practice to perfect. Special Olympics Franklin County athlete Lorenzo Stancil is a jack of all trades, in his sport and in preparation for it.
Competing in athletics, Lorenzo has spent 11 years as a Special Olympics North Carolina (SONC) athlete refining his technique in the 25 and 50-meter walks, 25-meter run and the softball throw. With his awards proudly on display in his room, they serve as motivation to stay in the game, even with in-person training on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Following the success of SONC’s at-home fitness program, Partner Up Power Up, the program was relaunched in the spring as a result of extended COVID-19 precautions. In place of traditional, in-person sports training, athletes and Unified partners, individuals without intellectual disabilities, train together through daily activities and weekly Zoom sessions, which regularly begin and end with a virtual dance party. Lorenzo is one of more than 10,000 participants registered and keeping active, healthy and connected through Partner Up Power Up.
“I like it a lot, I exercise every day, I have a lot of fun,” said Lorenzo. “I really love the dance parties.”
Offered as one of the weekly challenges, participants were tasked with creating a healthy snack, called Ants on a Log, for Wellness Wednesday. Lorenzo, who is well-known for his “Lorenzo’s Cheesy Lasagna” recipe, took his culinary craftiness to the kitchen, fashioning his Ants on a Log out of celery stalks, cream cheese and dried fruit as a topping.
“The program has been great for him,” said Connie Stancil, Lorenzo’s mother. “He is committed to doing his tracker daily and is experimenting with eating new, healthy snacks.”
Healthy eating is just one of the many aspects needed to become a successfully well-rounded athlete. Mastering that, one stalk of celery at a time, Stancil is also aware of the importance of immersion in his community, reinforcing a sense of accountability within Special Olympics and through other community groups. Stancil enjoys sharing his passion for music with others, especially worship music. In 2019, he performed his unique rendition of the National Anthem at Special Olympics Franklin County’s Spring Games. He is also no stranger to dance, an expert in the “Cupid Shuffle,” a dance he concludes each of his games with through the Miracle League of Franklin County.
Hobbies, Lorenzo has no shortage of. As for work, Lorenzo is learning the ropes, many of them. After graduating from Bunn High School in 2020, he began working for Mako Medical for several months as a technician preparing COVID-19 testing kits. Lorenzo joins his dad in their family-owned trucking business as well, delivering pipe to construction sites. Like an athlete looking ahead to the next score, the next goal, Lorenzo anticipates working in road construction one day on bridges and roads.
Despite the challenges presented during the pandemic, Lorenzo has persevered, working harder every day to become a more accomplished community member, worker and athlete. Powered by cheesy lasagna and line dances, he is prepared for nothing less than success.