North Carolina Department of Correction

June 30, 1999

Correction employees volunteer at World Summer Games softball competition

Many of the yellow-shirted volunteers at the Walnut Creek softball complex are Department of Correction employees who took time out of their summer schedules to work at the Special Olympics 1999 World Summer Games.

From the first blazing hot days to the muggy middle of the week, correction volunteers voiced excitement about the opportunity and rewards of working at the games.

"I thought it would be a lot of fun and a way to help out at the same time," said Tammy Braswell who works in the NC Division of Community Correction electronic house arrest program. Braswell served as an escort for the Texas softball team. "One of the athletes said we must be sisters since both of us have the first name Tammy. The team adopted me."

The Texas team had filed into the dugout at field six and broken huddle after a team cheer when the coach called Braswell asking her to check for some equipment that may have been left back in the parking lot. Braswell hurried off. As a team escort, Braswell helped the team check into the sports complex, find their ballfield and turn in their player line ups to the umpire. She also made sure the team had water in the dugout and helped out where needed.

Over by field two, Misty Arnold of the NC DOC Citizen Services office was talking to Moose, a member of the North Carolina softball team.

"I hit the cover off one of these," Moose said holding up a softball. "It was an old one and the seams were lose, but I knocked the cover off of it."

Arnold collected information from the team for the Special Olympics softball newsletter. "The athletes are excited about being here," Arnold said. "You walk by them and they smile and slap your hand with a high five."

"I worked in a parking lot all day loading and deploying supplies to very hot and thirsty participants. Then later in the day we transported elderly family members to their cars. It was an exhausting, gratifying day," said Sandy Pearce of NC DOC Research and Planning. "I got to wave and smile to the athletes as they entered and exited the venue. I only saw a little of the games but there was such a good feeling in the whole venue, a sense of doing the right thing, whether you were competing or volunteering."

Tammy Braswell with USA Texas

Misty Arnold with USA North Carolina

Bobby Dickerson and Wayne Talbert on a gator

Several of the correction volunteers said they met NBA star Grant Hill when he visited the softball complex Sunday. "I worked on the media team and got a chance to escort Grant Hill through the softball complex," said Dorothy Ledford of NC Division of Prisons administration. "What a kind and generous man, he took time for everybody that asked for an autograph and a picture."

All of the correction volunteers were impressed by the Special Olympics softball players. "I'm amazed by these athletes.They're good," said Bobby Dickerson, NC Division of Community Correction's chief probation officer in Franklin County. "They give 110 percent. They love the competition and they're having fun."

Dickerson and Wayne Talbert of the Dan River Prison Work Farm rode a small green tractor around the complex ferrying supplies where needed. The complex has ten softball fields that stayed busy as teams from across the country and around the world competed. As the South Carolina team left one dugout, the Texas team moved in and the Mexican team hurried to a nearby field.

"It's been a chance to be a part of something special and give something back," said Talbert who worked Saturday, Sunday and Monday. "I've been blessed talking to these athletes and meeting people from around the world."

"I volunteered partly because of the department's encouragement, partly out of pride that North Carolina had been chosen to host the games and partly because this is such a good cause," said James Orwin of Polk Youth Institution. "There's no question that Special Olympics is almost as good an experience for the athletes as it is for the volunteers."

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