Members of The Amazing 5 Bowling Team proudly show off their bronze medals. The five-man team competed in Special Olympics North Carolina Summer Games.

Special to Iredell Free News

Nearly 1,500 athletes and unified partners met in Raleigh on May 31-June 2 for the 2024 Special Olympics North Carolina Summer Games.

Special Olympics Iredell County sent its largest delegation to the event in recent years as 38 athletes and four unified partners competed in six different sports. The delegation was led by 17 coaches and numerous volunteers.

Parents, friends and families of the athletes gathered at the Statesville Fitness Center on May 31 to send the group off in style. The community generated tremendous energy and good vibes as they chatted with the athletes about their training and wished them well in the competition.

Each athlete was gifted a water bottle filled with goodies as well as posters with words of encouragement from students in Michael Breedlove’s Service Learning Group at Brawley IB School. A group of Iredell County Sheriff’s Office deputies and their K9 partners showed their support by attending the send-off event. The caravan of athletes was then escorted to the interstate by ICSO deputies. Conner Troutman, a first-time participant enjoyed riding in the “parade” and waving at those passing by.

The Iredell delegation attended the Opening Ceremonies at Reynolds Coliseum on the campus of N.C. State University on Friday evening. The athletes enjoyed lots of entertainment including a performance by an inclusive dance troupe. Law Enforcement Officers from across North Carolina carried the Flame of Hope into Reynolds to light the torch and the games were declared open.

On Saturday, the delegation from Iredell spread out across Raleigh and Cary to begin the competition.

Casey Grant attended his first summer games in the field of athletics. His father, Mike Grant, served as his coach and helped him prepare for competition in the softball throw. Casey launched the ball over 41 meters to win a silver medal in his division.

Dante Carruth and Conner Troutman participated in the Basketball Skills competition, which allows Special Olympics athletes to develop sports skills in a competitive format designed as a stepping stone to team competition. The individual skills offered for basketball are passing, dribbling, and shooting. Dante earned a silver medal and Conner earned the bronze medal in their respective divisions. Randy Stroud along with Eric and Maxie Feimster and Roy Moore worked with Dante and Conner to prepare for the competition. Coach Maxie Feimster said “Conner and Dante were a joy to be with! We will never forget the enthusiasm, the smiles, the high-fives but especially the hugs!”

Jonathan Humes and Reece Williams represented Iredell County in Powerlifting. The powerlifting team started training in March under the guidance of coaches Joe Barker, Kenny Moore and Pete Mahaffey at Genesis Fitness. Jonathan swept his division by winning a gold medal in squat, bench press, deadlift and triple combo. Reece muscled his way to a silver medal in squat, bench press and triple combo and won a bronze medal in deadlift.

The Special Olympics Iredell County Dolphins Swim team, led by coaches Lisa Cartner, Matt Cartner, Andrea Mullins, Jeanne Massey and Dennis Williams, has been training at the Statesville YMCA since February. Karlie Cartner took home a gold medal in the 50-meter freestyle and a silver medal in the 25-meter backstroke and 25-meter freestyle. Sophie Funderburk earned two gold medals for her performance in the 25-meter assisted swim and 15-yard walk. Mary Housh, a first-time participant in the Summer Games, won gold in the 25-meter freestyle; silver in the 50-meter freestyle and a fourth-place ribbon in the 25-meter backstroke. Ben Kasprzak won gold medals for the 15-yard walk, 15-meter freestyle and 25-meter freestyle. Sierra Manning brought home gold medals in the 25-meter backstroke and 25-meter freestyle as well as a silver medal in the 25-meter kickboard event. Chase Mullins also earned gold medals for the 100-meter and 50-meter freestyle and a silver medal in the 50-meter backstroke. Dawson Nealy moved up to level 3 events this year and won gold medals in the 50-meter backstroke and 50-meter freestyle, along with a silver medal in the 100-meter freestyle. Merritt Tuck, the youngest member of the Iredell delegation, won a gold medal in the 15-meter unassisted swim and silver medals in the 25-meter freestyle and 25-meter kickboard race. Hunter Williams brought home a gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle, a silver medal in the 50-meter backstroke and a fifth-place ribbon in the 50-meter freestyle. Lisa Cartner was proud of all the swimmers accomplished this season. Many swimmers tried new events and some set new personal records.

Nine athletes from Special Olympics Iredell County competed in singles bowling over two days. Justin Bertelsen won a gold medal in his division. Those winning silver medals in their division were Monique Farmer, Meghan Richardson and Kari Dixon. Bronze medal winners in their division were Delaney Hansen and Will Gandy. First-time bowlers Sincere Alexander, Jaiden Hickman, and Pat Reid each earned a fifth-place ribbon in their division.

Brian Keenan who has been competing in summer games for 30 years, along with his doubles partner Keith Smith made up Team Mighty Rollers. The team won silver in their division. “The Incredibowls” doubles team of Kim Snook and Josh Moore won bronze in their division.

Iredell County was pleased to send a five-man team to bowl this year as well. The Amazing 5 team made up of Mark Brown, Breanna Reed, Patricia Rucker, Corey Stewart and Randy Wynn walked away with a bronze medal. Brown made a return to SONC Summer Games after a 40-year break.

Joe Keenan, brother of Brian Keenan, has been coaching with Special Olympics for 30 years as well. He along with Roy Moore and Cindy Snook work with the team year-round at Pla-Mor Lanes in Statesville to prepare the athletes for competition.

For the first time, Special Olympics Iredell County sent a unified volleyball team to compete at Summer Games. A unified team is made up of athletes and their non-disabled peers who train and compete together. The team, led by coaches Ted Williams and Tammy Bowie, began training in early March to learn the basics of the game. The team battled their way to a gold medal in the highest division. Team members included Sissy Blackwell, Tyler Bowie, Preston Fox, Megan Graham, Chase Stroud and Alenna Ueno and unified partners Revae Bostwick, Kinley Pennell, Barrett Williams and Elleigh Williams.

In addition to sports competition, three athletes served in leadership roles during the weekend. Will Gandy, chair of the Special Olympics North Carolina Athlete Council, and Hunter Williams, also a member of the council, assisted with the Presidents Dinner and volunteered at the Olympic Town Events on Saturday night. Special Olympics North Carolina Health Messenger, Reece Williams assisted in the Healthy Athletes area and served on the Unified Media Team on Sunday to provide coverage of the basketball competition for social media.

The weekend was a huge success due to the outstanding leadership of the coaches and volunteers.

Volunteers Sherry Moore and Andrea Mullins were a key part of the planning and organizing that went into the event. Moore took on the responsibility of securing meals and snacks for the entire delegation, which is no small feat. Mullins assisted with housing and logistics. The support of each parent, chaperone and volunteer made for a smooth and enjoyable weekend.

In reflecting on her first trip to Special Olympics North Carolina Summer Games, Maxie Feimster stated “our experience with the state games for Special Olympics was incredible. It was so much fun to be around all the athletes not only Iredell but the entire state! We were the biggest cheerleaders for everyone. We saw so much love. It was amazing!”.


To learn more about Special Olympics Iredell County and how you can get involved as an athlete, coach, unified partner, volunteer or donor contact Local Coordinator Bobbi Williams at


Conner Troutman, first-time participant, accepts his bronze medal in basketball skills at Special Olympics North Carolina Summer Games. Photo credit: Special Olympics North Carolina
Dante Carruth prepares to shoot the ball in the Special Olympics North Carolina Summer Games Basketball Skills competition. Carruth earned a silver medal in his division. Photo credit: Special Olympics North Carolina
Karlie Cartner awaits the start of her 25m freestyle race. Cartner is a member of Special Olympics Iredell County Dolphins swim team and recently competed at Special Olympics North Summer Games. Photo credit: Special Olympics North Carolina
Mary Housh takes her mark for the 25m freestyle race at Special Olympics North Carolina Summer Games. Housch set a personal best record at the event. Photo credit: Special Olympics North Carolina
Sincere Alexander attended his first Special Olympics North Carolina Summer Games and came home with a fifth-place finish in singles bowling.
Casey Grant was the only athlete to represent Special Olympics Iredell County in Athletics at Special Olympics North Carolina Summer Games. Casey earned a silver medal in the softball throw. Photo credit: Mike Grant.
Megan Graham was laser focused during the unified volleyball team competition during Special Olympics North Carolina Summer Games. The team won a gold medal in their first year of competition.
Jonathan Humes competes in squat as Coach Pete Mahaffey looks on at the Special Olympics North Carolina Summer Games. Humes swept his division, winning gold medals in bench press, squat, deadlift and triple combo.