One mom wants to fill the stands for Special Olympics Opening Ceremony

Published: Apr. 21, 2014 at 11:06 PM EDT|Updated: May. 21, 2014 at 3:54 AM EDT
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There's no denying the energy and excitement inside Bojangles Coliseum during the Special Olympics opening ceremony.

There's the torch lighting, a huge American flag, and more than a thousand athletes attend. It's a great celebration.

However, besides the athletes and their families, few others see it in person.

That's why Vanessa Infanzon started to spread the word about "Operation: Fill the Stands" on her blog called, "eSpecially Ben." Her son, Ben, is a Special Olympian.

She wants to see a big crowd cheering for the athletes, so does Ben's home health caregiver Joey Haynes. Haynes works for Easter Seals and has attended other Special Olympics events to support the athletes.

"It's just great to see how happy they are," said Haynes, who believes the Olympians would really feed off the crowd.

"Regardless of how many people are there, they will be excited," he said. "I think having that audience cheering them on would add to it."

One reason for the small crowd could be because people work or attend school during event. This year, it takes place Tuesday morning.

Greg Morrill, local program coordinator with Special Olympics, says they realize it's hard for people to attend the opening ceremony during the week. However, they schedule it that way because most of the athletes attend school and they rely on school bus transportation.

He says Special Olympics also has a lot of weekend events and volunteer opportunities throughout the year, so check out their website calendar.

The opening ceremony takes place Tuesday, April 22nd from 10:00 am to noon at Bojangles Coliseum. Games continue Wednesday and Thursday at Charlotte Country Day School and The Mecklenburg Aquatic Center.

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