For fifty years, Special Olympics has used the power of sports to provide people with intellectual disabilities an opportunity to gain skills, find confidence and create inspiration in their communities. To some athletes, Special Olympics means they can do something someone told them they never would be able to do. To others, Special Olympics offers an escape from the realities of the world; it offers a safe space where they feel included and loved.
For Special Olympics Wayne County athlete, Pete Lewis, Special Olympics has not only allowed him to play the sports he loves, but also has created a new desire in him to be involved in his community and make friends.
“Before Special Olympics, I was lonely and shy,” Lewis says. “But now, I introduce myself to new people and I make lots of new friends.”
Lewis has competed in the Special Olympics Wayne County program for 20 years. Throughout the past two decades, he has competed in athletics, basketball, bocce, equestrian and swimming.
“I like being involved with as many sports as I can,” exclaims Lewis. “That’s how I meet new friends. Plus, I have won over 40 medals!”
A decorated athlete in all the sports he plays, his favorite sport is basketball.
“I love shooting the basketball and blocking all my friends’ shots,” Lewis laughs. “I smile when I even get to hold the basketball.”
Lewis has also become a diehard NC State basketball fan and watches the Wolfpack play whenever he can.
“I love to watch [Malik] Abu, #0, for the Pack play,” Lewis says. “He’s my favorite.”
According to his mother, Lachelle, Lewis loves competing in basketball but she is most impressed with the care he gives his horse before the annual Special Olympics North Carolina Equestrian Tournament.
“He loves taking care of his horses,” Lewis’ mother shares. “He feeds them, washes them, saddles them up and gets them ready to ride before he competes. He takes good care of his horse and equestrian was where he first began to build his confidence. That’s where he won his first gold medals.”
In addition to competing in sports, Lewis is also a hard worker and avid learner off the field. He works with Wayne Opportunity and A Small Miracle, LLC. Here, he takes classes to learn life skills like reading.
“I really enjoy A Small Miracle,” Lewis says. “They let me work: shred papers, take out the trash, vacuum, and other tasks. But I really love just going in, learning and talking to all of the nice people.”
Lewis loves helping out in the community as well and his mother is always impressed by how hard he works to make sure everyone is taken care of.
“Special Olympics has given Pete the ability to be confident in himself and make new friends,” she shares. “He is not really shy anymore and is always doing things for other people.”
Being Athlete of the Month is more than just a special recognition for Lewis.
“When he found out he was the Special Olympics North Carolina February Athlete of the Month, he was so surprised and happy,” his mother shares. “This award has already boosted his confidence. It makes him want to work harder and improve his skills. He’s spent his whole life trying to do what his coaches ask him to do and trying to get better. Now that he earned this award, he is ready to take on more. He even told me he wants to try new Special Olympics sports and make even more friends!”
Congratulations on being the 2018 Special Olympics North Carolina February Athlete of the Month, Pete!
Sports Team: NC State