By Chris Gregory, Managing Editor

Trousdale County High School sent three students to Lebanon on Tuesday to compete in the Area 27 qualifier for the Special Olympics.

Christian Murray, Andrew McKoin and Jay Gregory were accompanied by teachers and family as they competed in 50- and 100-meter runs, a 10-meter walk, standing long jump and softball throw.

The trio earned a first-place finish, three seconds and a third in their respective divisions.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
From left: Jay Gregory, Andrew McKoin, Christian Murray

Before leaving for Lebanon, students and teachers at the high school held an impromptu pep rally in the halls to cheer on their fellow students.

Kim Duke, special education teacher at TCHS, said this was the first time she recalled Trousdale County sending students to the Special Olympics, whose stated goal is to use sports to empower people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities.

“We’ve been asking for a couple of years for information on Special Olympics and we received an email this year with the information,” Duke said. “This is our first time with me being a teacher and a coach.”

Duke said she hoped to be able to include middle and elementary school students in the future.

The games were held on Cumberland University’s football field in Lebanon and were sponsored in part by Zaxby’s. Dr. George Walker, associate professor of physical education and athletic coaching at Cumberland, is the Special Olympics director for Area 27, which covers Wilson and Trousdale counties.

Every school in Wilson County and the Lebanon Special School District sent competitors to Tuesday’s event. Winners can participate in the state games, to be held at Lipscomb University in May.

“I’ve been working with Special Olympics in this area for probably 30 years,” Walker said. “Years ago when I was a student, I just developed a love for it. It’s a passion of mine, dealing with Special Olympics and research with people with special needs.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.