Volunteer H.S. Special Olympics athlete headed from state meet to USA Games

Jeff Bobo • May 24, 2018 at 1:30 PM

CHURCH HILL — Volunteer High School sophomore Gabriel "Gabe" Morelock took the five hour bus ride from Church Hill to Murfreesboro Wednesday with his teammates to compete Thursday in the state Special Olympics meet.

But that’s like a walk across the street compared to where he's going at the end of June.

Gabe was recently selected to compete in the Special Olympics USA Games, scheduled for July 1-6, in Seattle, Washington.

He is only the second VHS student in school history to compete in the Special Olympics USA Games. Zac Bear was in the 2014 games in New Jersey.

VHS special education teacher Christy Thacker said that after Gabe qualified for the Special Olympics state meet in 2017, he became eligible for a drawing to go national, and was among the names drawn to compete in the 2018 USA Games in Seattle.

"Gabe is only the second athlete from our area who has been chosen to compete at this level," Thacker said. "Gabe will be a great inspiration to other athletes. His strength and determination are two great qualities. He has been training for months and has improved his times and distances in all events."

This has been a banner year for Volunteer's Special Olympics squad.

Last month it was announced that VHS was one of eight schools in the state invited to compete in the state meet in Murfreesboro this week alongside six members of the varsity Falcon track team who also earned a trip to state.

Last month Volunteer was also the first high school in Tennessee to host a Unified track meet, which featured Special Olympics athletes competing beside their counterparts on the varsity squads.

Gabe will be leaving for the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle at the end of June, and will attend the opening ceremony on July 1.

As of Wednesday, however, his fundraising wasn't quite halfway to meetign the $1,000 cost for room and board for the trip.

A "GoFundMe" website has been established for Gabe, and the link can be found in the online version of this story at www.timesnews.net.

"I need help with travel, expenses and paying for my uniforms," Gabe stated in his GoFundMe site. "I have been training hard for months and I will do my very best to make everyone back home proud of me. I will be competing in the 100 and 200 meter runs, running long jump and the mini javelin. Thank you for your support."

Thacker added, "We still need to raise money for his last payment if $500 and travel expenses to and from Nashville where he will board his plane with his teammates. Please share (the GoFundMe link) with friends and family and donate if at all possible. Even if each person donated $5 this would help reach our goal. This is a great opportunity for the community to show their support. Let’s show him how proud we are of him."

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