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FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. (CBS46)- Metro Atlanta will be represented at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi.
A team from Forsyth County is traveling to the competition that will be held March 14-21.
Garrett Ardizone is a Special Olympics athlete from Forsyth County and Wayne Hancock, a longtime volunteer, is his unified partner for table tennis. They’ve been practicing diligently as they get ready to represent the USA along with a pair from Augusta.
“We’re the first table tennis team specifically from the state of Georgia but the first unified doubles team for the history of world games,” said Hancock.
They are honored to represent Georgia and the USA.
“Excited and nervous at the same time,” said Ardizone, who has been a Special Olympics athlete for ten years. He plays several different sports. He’s known Hancock for years since Hancock was his basketball coach.
In this role as table tennis partners, they support each other, learn from one another and have fun.
“He’s a good buddy, I love him and he loves me and we take care of each other and he keeps me in check," said Hancock. "Sometimes I can get a little bit too serious I think, but he keeps me grounded.”
Karen Cimo is their coach, who also volunteers her time.
“It’s an honor and it’s overwhelming. It’s an experience of a lifetime for all of us,” she said.
Just being a part of the Special Olympics has taught all of them, athletes and volunteers alike, so much beyond sports.
“They teach you a lot, the athletes, they really do,” said Cimo. “They’re always happy and smiling and positive and it’s just a great place to be.”
“I can’t describe the friendships that we’ve been able to have through this program,” said Hancock.
Ardizone said, “My favorite part is obviously winning but I know if I don’t then that’s okay. We shake hands and say, ‘good game.’”