Lawrence Smith, 32, a Fort Bragg Family member, knows a thing or two about dedication.
For nearly 20 years, he has competed and placed as a Special Olympics competitor and on April 17, Smith added coach and torchbearer to his list of achievements.
At the spring games for elementary, junior and senior high school aged competitors at Methodist University, Smith took pride in not only coaching and sharing his experience, but in understanding the importance of carrying the torch.
Smith hasn’t let cerebral palsy stand in his way of success. He continues to set and achieve his goals.
“It’s an honor and a privilege at the same time to be a torchbearer, but you have to remember it’s not about you,” said Smith. “It’s about everyone else.”
Smith is a member of the athlete competition committee for Special Olympics and was given the honor of being the last out of 2 runners to carry the flame.
“You can hold the torch up and be proud, but you have to remember that you are holding it up for everyone,” said Smith.
Lawrence’s father, Staff Sgt. Brian Smith, of Co. E, 1st Battalion, Air Defense Artillery Regiment took great pride in watching his son carry the torch for the final leg of the relay.
“I know his mom and I were very proud of him,” said Brian. “The events are an opportunity for him to get out of the house and make friends, compete with others and get involved with something he enjoys doing. I was so excited when I found out what day he was going to be running. I made sure to ask my chain of command so I could be here to watch him.”
Smith not only uses his track and field exploits to bring attention to Special Olympics, but hopes to attract more volunteers to the event.
“I want people to know that it’s important to come out and watch,” but that people can also come volunteer, said Smith. “We are always looking for people who want to help out.”
Even though Smith is nursing a tennis elbow injury, he plans to compete in 200- and 400-meter and long jump qualification events at Methodist University today.
“It’s not about winning medals for me,” said Smith. “It’s more about the experience. The sheer joy of staying active and trying to stay fit is what really motivates me.”