Published On: Fri, Dec 3rd, 2010

Special Olympics Athletes honored at Banquet



                “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt,” states the Special Olympics motto.  Twenty-eight athletes in the Qualla Boundary Special Olympics program are definitely winners and were recognized for their efforts this past year at a banquet held at Harrah’s Cherokee Hotel on Thursday, Dec. 2. 

Athlete Robert Kanott holds up a certificate and embroidered jacket he received at the Qualla Boundary Special Olympics Banquet held at Harrah's Cherokee Hotel on Thursday, Dec. 2. (Photos by Scott McKie B.P./One Feather)

               “We’ve had a very exciting year here in Cherokee,” said Lana Lambert, Qualla Boundary Special Olympics coordinator.  “This was the first year the program sent athletes to the National Games.” 

                As members of Team NC, Blair Sinnen and Gil Biello represented the Qualla Boundary as they competed in the bowling competitions at the Special Olympics National Games held this July in Lincoln, Neb. 

                Lambert thanked the many volunteers who helped the program this past year.  “We could never go home tonight if we honored everyone, so, thanks to everyone who volunteered this year.” 

Athlete Will Poolaw (left) addresses the crowd at the banquet as Qualla Boundary Special Olympics program coordinator Lana Lambert looks on.

             The area Special Olympics Spring Games were held in Cherokee for the first time this year.  “I hope you had a great time and will come back,” said Lambert who added that the games will be held in Cherokee again in 2011.  “We’re going to need your support next year as well.” 

                Lambert thanked Kristin “Kissy” Smith, the coordinator of this year’s Spring Games, for her “hard work and dedication” in making the event a reality.  She also thanked the volunteer coaches and commented, “Without the coaches, none of this would be possible.” 

Athlete Tony Wolfe hugs coach Nicky Etters after receiving his jacket. He told the crowd, "Special Olympics means the world to me!"

          Each of the athletes in the Qualla Boundary program received a certificate and an embroidered jacket on Thursday.  “Special Olympics means the world to me,” said athlete Tony Wolfe. 

                Various program sponsors were recognized during Thursday’s banquet including: 

–          Friends of the Special Olympics: Cherokee Tribal Gaming Commission, KOA Kampground, Cherokee Preservation Foundation

–          Bronze Level Sponsors:  Cherokee Electrical, First Citizens Bank, Owle Construction, Cherokee Enterprises

–          Silver Level Sponsors:  Cherokee Police Department DARE Program, The Sequoyah Fund, Wal-Mart of Sylva, Harrah’s Cherokee Hotel & Casino

–          Gold Level Sponsor:  EBCI Tribal Council

–          Appreciation Certificates:  Chief Agent Gerard Ball of Cherokee Alcohol Law Enforcement, Cherokee Central Schools, The Cherokee One Feather

“It’s an honor and a pleasure for us to stand up and be a part of the Special Olympics,” said Birdtown Rep. Tunney Crowe. 

Big Cove Rep. Perry Shell thanked all of the sponsors and participants of the program and commented, “Every one of the athletes that participated are all winners.” 

        Wolfetown Rep. Bill Taylor said he was overjoyed to be a part of the Spring Games held in Cherokee.  “It was probably one of the best things I’ve ever done and I’m looking forward to next year.” 

        Lambert also recognized the Vocational Opportunities of Cherokee (VOC) program for their help with Qualla Boundary Special Olympics through the years.  “Anything we need, VOC has always been there.” 

        Kimlyn Lambert, VOC director, commented, “You won’t find anybody more dedicated to Special Olympics than Lana.  She gives her time, her heart, and everything she has to the program.  VOC is proud to be a part of Special Olympics and we plan to be for many years to come.”

Photo gallery of event: