The 2023 Special Olympics North Carolina (SONC) Athlete of the Year Award was presented to Lorenzo Stancil of Franklin County. Stancil was presented with the award at the 2023 SONC Leadership Summit, which joined Special Olympics leaders from across the state, hosted August 18-20 in Durham, North Carolina.
More than 14 years ago, Stancil began competing in athletics and has grown to become a leader in the Special Olympics movement. In 2023, Stancil became an SONC Global Messenger and represents the organization as a spokesperson. Stancil encourages fellow athletes to maintain healthy habits through his involvement as a certified SONC Health Messenger. A Health Messenger is a Special Olympics athlete who has been trained to serve as a health and wellness leader, educator, advocate and role model within their Special Olympics communities and the community at large.
Through Partner Up Power Up, SONC’s virtual fitness training program, Stancil’s cooking demonstrations have become popular with fellow participants. 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.
“I like the exercising, the cooking, singing, dancing and being with my friends,” said Stancil.
Stancil shares his passion for singing with others, a talent he showcases through Special Olympics. In 2019, he performed his rendition of the national anthem at Special Olympics Franklin County’s Spring Games. Again, in 2022 and 2023, he performed the national anthem at the SONC Summer Games in Raleigh, North Carolina. To debut his public speaking role as a Global Messenger, Stancil was invited to share his experience with Partner Up Power Up to the Triangle North Healthcare Foundation of Henderson, North Carolina, in July of 2023.
“Everyone applauded and said I did a great job,” said Stancil.
He shares his involvement in Special Olympics with his family members, who are dedicated volunteers and have recently become certified coaches.
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. Engage with us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.