DOBSON — A national champion bowler and two long-serving volunteers have been named the Surry County Special Olympics athlete and volunteers of the year, respectively.
During its last meeting, the Surry County Board of Commissioner honored Timothy Lunsford for receiving the honor of athlete of the year, and Frances Earley and Dorothy Joyner as volunteers of the year.
In recognizing Lunsford for the athlete of the year honor, county Parks and Recreation Director Daniel White said he is simply a pleasure to be around.
“His enthusiasm is infectious to everyone around him,” White said. “He’s always smiling and happy and his energy level is just boundless.”
Lunsord participates in multiple sports, including basketball, bowling and swimming, and “is competitive in them all,” White said.
“He was also chosen to attend the National Bowling Invitational in Reno, Nev., last September, where he attended with his Unified Bowling partner Donald Carter,” White said, noting that Unified Bowling involves teams consisting of one special needs competitor and one traditional competitor. “The team won two gold medals at the national level.”
In addition, Lunsford and Carter won gold medals on the regional level and in doubles competition.
But for White, Lunsford is much more than a medal winner.
“You ask him to do anything and he just gets to it,” he said. “He has one of those personalities. I remember bringing my 4-year-old daughter to a practice and watching (Lunsford) with her was just remarkable. He definitely stood out in our minds this year because of his accomplishments, but also because of the person he is.”
Volunteers of the Year
White said volunteers like Early and Joyner are critical to the success of the Special Olympics program in Surry County.
“There wouldn’t be a Special Olympics without volunteers like these,” he said. “They devoted countless hours toward making not just our spring games, but all our events a success. They give and give and give and never want anything back, but this recognition is deserved and the community at large should know what they do for this program.”
Earley is the mother of a special needs child, and White said her whole family has become an asset to the program.
“Whenever a coaching position was vacated she’s step up and say she’d do it,” he said. “She never had to be asked. She took a softball team that was struggling in competition and led them to win the state gold medal at this year’s state games. But not content to just coach, she has been an advocate for our local athletes, and has helped secure sponsors to cover 100 percent of uniform costs.”
Joyner is the mother of last year’s Athlete of the Year, Neal Joyner, and White says she is the kind of volunteer every program dreams about.
“When basketball lost two coaches, she stepped up with her husband to coach a three-on-three basketball team, bringing in her teen-aged grandchildren to get them involved,” he said. “She has been one of our strongest fund raisers, bringing in thousands of dollars in cash and in-kind donations.
“If any athletes ever needed transportation to a workshop or sporting opportunity, she and her husband were faithful to provide that transportation, even going as far as Charlotte so the athletes could attend a training opportunity.”
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.