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Morgan going to Special Olympics

Morgan going to Special Olympics

Kernersville’s Claudia Morgan has been actively involved in Special Olympics for 26 years and will now have the opportunity to see and participate in Special Olympics on the biggest stage of them all. Morgan will be traveling with Greensboro Special Olympian Dustin Edmundson, 23, to the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin, Germany.
From June 17 to June 25, Berlin will welcome 7,000 Special Olympics athletes and unified partners from approximately 170 nations to compete in 24 sports. The athletes will be supported by more than 3,000 coaches and 20,000 volunteers.
“It is very exciting. I have never been to Germany, so I am really looking forward to that part as well. We are actually going there on June 10. We will run the torch to the Flame of Hope and go to different cities in Germany to raise awareness,” said Morgan. “The coolest thing about it is I get to share the experience with a Special Olympic athlete. What an experience, but especially to go with a Special Olympic athlete. He will run the torch to the Flame of Hope as well. I will represent North Carolina and the athlete side of the Police Torch Run. I am just looking forward to going and the different sight-seeing, like the Berlin Wall. There will be a lot of running, so I don’t know how much I will actually see.”
Being part of the Special Olympics World Games is something Morgan, who recently retired from the Winston-Salem Police Department (WSPD) and now works for them part-time, has wanted to do for some time.
“Before I retired, I was chosen to go to Sweden and then it was going to be in Russia, but with everything going on with Russia, that didn’t happen. There is an application process. You put in for it through Special Olympics. Special Olympics North Carolina (SONC) nominates you. Then it goes to Special Olympics International and they make the final decision on who is going,” Morgan said. “Most of the time, they look at how much the state raises for Olympics. It is worldwide, so there will be lots of people from lots of different countries.”
Her career in law enforcement is what started Morgan’s involvement with Special Olympics. Morgan was happy to report that law enforcement in North Carolina raised $1.5 million for Special Olympics in fiscal year 2022.
“I spent 30 years being a police officer and during those 30 years, I became involved with Special Olympics. In law enforcement, most of the time you are not dealing with people because they are having a good day. With Special Olympics, I feel they have given me so much more than I have given them,” said Morgan.
Morgan is in the Special Olympics Hall of Fame and she was the Special Olympics State Director for four years.
“Director is a volunteer position and a big part of the job is to get other law enforcement agencies to contribute. I found that if you can get someone to go to the Special Olympic Games and they see the Special Olympic athletes it sells itself,” Morgan said. “It is just a wonderful organization to be a part of. I have done a lot of things in my life, but this is the one I am the most proud of.”
Morgan filled a variety of roles with the WSPD.
“I worked in the Patrol division. I was a hostage negotiator, and when I retired, I was in the Community Resource Unit. I enjoyed that the most. You are around people that want to be there and you get to see the good. Being a hostage negotiator was pretty difficult dealing with people that are barricaded subjects and have hostages,” said Morgan. “Being a detective was the most difficult. I was in our juvenile division. I was dealing with kids, so that was very difficult. It was difficult when they were victims, and unfortunately some of the crime is being generated from our youth.”
The technology in law enforcement is a challenge now, according to Morgan.
“Mostly the technology is a challenge because I am kind of old school. Over time that is what has changed the most,” Morgan said.
All of the running Morgan will be doing at the Special Olympics World Games is something she has taken head on, although sometimes reluctantly.
“I had never been much of a runner and I never really liked running. The more I am around Special Olympic athletes I have his goal, and I lost 50 pounds. I will think some days I do not want to run, but then I think of all the obstacles the Special Olympic athletes have to overcome and I say, ‘I got this,’” said Morgan. “I tell people it is still a love-hate relationship. Even in rookie school I did not like running, but now I have done a half marathon and I really like it on some days.”
Morgan’s love of Special Olympics and the Special Olympics athletes is matched by her love for Kernersville.
“I was born and raised in Kernersville. I still live on the back of my dad’s farm that was established in the 1800s. When I was younger, I sold produce and things like that. I saw how my dad worked in the fields and I knew I had to do something else. I did not want to work on a farm and start a fire to stay warm,” Morgan said. “Kernersville is my hometown and I will never leave it. My roots have been here. My husband is from Philadelphia and we have a house in Beaufort, so he refers to it as his home. Kernersville is my home and I will never leave the farm. I remember when we just had a Ray’s hamburger place and a Hardee’s, and then a Food Lion. It has changed drastically, but I could not see going anywhere else. I still feel like it has that hometown feel. There is something about a hometown feel you don’t get other places.”

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