Special to Iredell Free News
After being introduced to Special Olympics at a very young age, Reece Williams has become a decorated athlete and an ambassador for the nonprofit organization.
Competing in sports has been an important part of Reece’s life. He is skilled in most sports offered by Special Olympics, including basketball, swimming, tennis, bocce, bowling, and powerlifting. He recently took up flag football.
“Special Olympics helps keep people with special needs healthy and fit and allows them to make lots of new friends,” Reece explained. “I get to be a leader and learn more independence.”
Over the years Reece has won 38 gold medals and countless silver and bronze medals as well as ribbons.
He has demonstrated his leadership skills by continuously working on the local and state level to keep Special Olympics athletes active during the COVID-19 lockdown and since then.
In recognition of his commitment to Special Olympics, Reece was presented the inaugural Tony Stikeleather Iredell County Special Olympics Athlete of the Year Award in 2019.
He was chosen for the award by Iredell County Special Olympics coaches as the athlete who most exemplified the qualities that Tony Stikeleather embodied as a coach. Those qualities include perseverance, inspiring others, having a positive attitude, being an encourager, caring, having a strong work ethic, and dedication.
The award was created in 2019 to honor the coaching legacy of Coach Tony Stikeleather who had coached as a volunteer since 2004. Tony’s daughters, Kala Bryden, Hannah Elsonboss, and Sarah Stikeleather, a Special Olympics athlete, were present when Reece received this recognition.
Reece’s grandmother, Barbara Williams, introduced him to Special Olympics. His mother, Bobbi Williams, recalls him practicing in the yard for events.
Recently, Ted Williams, his father, said Reece did not want the family to stop playing tennis while getting ready for last fall’s state tennis competition. Reece is competing again in tennis at the November State Games. Both parents are coaches and Ted often drives the van to competitions.
Reece is not only active at the local level, but he is also a familiar leader with Special Olympics North Carolina. He is a member of the Special Olympics NC Athlete Council, a SONC Health Messenger and Global Messenger.
In addition, Reece helps teach new coaches at regional trainings, and this year he is a co-host for Partner Up Power Up, a program designed keep to all Special Olympics athletes across North Carolina engaged and in shape throughout the year.
Reece is quick to let you know his cousin Robb Williams, who competed at the world Tennis Competition with Special Olympics, is his hero.
On Sunday mornings, Reece Williams is a regular at Friendship Methodist Church in North Iredell.
“He is the ultimate teammate! He tries his best as an individual and is always cheering on his teammates whether in Special Olympics or at church filling in roles such as choir or sound and cameras, or ushering,” Pastor Bobby Lorton said.