Local Special Olympian raising money to compete at National Games
(pictured above: Ghree Lockard wears her Special Olympics medals.)
An effort is afoot to raise money to help Ghree Lockard compete in the Special Olympics National Games.
She is slated to compete in bocce – a sort of bowling-styling billiards where players roll small balls in an effort to get it close to an even smaller ball called “the jack” – during the games, which will be played from June 9-20 in Princeton, N.J.
“I love doing Special Olympics because you get to meet other people and compete against others,” said Lockard, who has numerous medals, including two golds in bocce and a gold in swimming.
Out of the state’s more than 38,000 Special Olympians, only 45 gold medal winners are picked – through a random drawing – to go to the national games, which are held every four years. An athlete from Forsyth County hasn’t been to nationals since 2006, the games’ inaugural year.
“She has a great disposition, a great personality, very easy going,” said Forsyth County Special Olympics Coordinator Lisa Kiser. “She is competitive, but in a fun way.”
All Special Olympians have intellectual disabilities, but some, like Lockard, also have physical ones. Lockard has cerebral palsy and ambulates with the aid of crutches or a walker. Despite her disability, she can swim with the best of them and has enough upper body dexterity to excel in both bocce and bowling.
She enjoys competing but gets an even bigger thrill out of traveling and meeting people.
“I don’t think they do it for competition, I think they just do it because it’s fun,” she said of Special Olympics athletes. “It’s fun for everybody, because it’s fun to meet new people and go places like that.”
Her trip to Jersey will be her first time out of the state and getting there will give her her first-ever experience on an airplane. The trip does have a financial obligation that the athletes themselves must meet. Lockard is trying to raise $2,000 for travel expenses. To that end, she held a spaghetti fundraiser at Konnoak HIlls Moravian Church, where she attends Sunday School, on Friday, May 23.
Lockard, who lives near the church in the Stockton Street Home and works at Forsyth Industrial Systems, was pleased with the turnout. Many of her friends, housemates and Special Olympics peers packed the church’s fellowship hall.
Stacy Hill, the supervisor at Stockton Street Home, which provides housing and life skill training for those with disabilities, served the spaghetti. Hill was happy to help out. She said to her knowledge, there has never been a national Special Olympian at Stockton or any of the other facilities owned by the non-profit Group Homes of Forsyth.
“I am extremely proud of Ghree,” she said. “Ghree has made history for herself. She not only makes herself look good but makes the group home look good as well.”
Konnoak Hills Pastor John Rights, who was joined at the fundraiser by his wife Mary, said Stockton Street Home residents have attended Sunday School at his church for about 10 years. The residents have also aided the church in special activities like the annual CROP Walk to benefit Crisis Control and Sunnyside ministries and by helping to serve meals to the men at Samaritan Inn homeless shelter.
Rights said he’s always been impressed with Lockard’s spirit and determination; she takes part in CROP Walks in spite of her disability.
“She puts all her ability into it, and it really inspires everyone,” he said.
Lockard is also raising money through firstgiving.com, a crowd funding site for non-profits. You can donate at firstgiving.com/fundraiser/GhreeLockard/teamNC. For more information about Special Olympic, visit http://www.sonc.net/forsyth.